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Full text of "The rise and progress of the British explosives industry"

THE 

RISEANoPROGRESS 

OF THE 

BRITISH EXPLOSIVES 
INDUSTRY. 





FIG. I. SIR ANDREW NOBLE, BART., K.C.B., F.R.S. 
(From a portrait painted by H. Harries Brown. Photographed by Paul Laib.) 



THE RISE AND PROGRESS 

OF THE 

BRITISH EXPLOSIVES 

/ INDUSTRY 



PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE 

VIlTH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF APPLIED CHEMISTRY 
\\ 

BY ITS 

EXPLOSIVES SECTION 



LONDON: WHITTAKER AND CO. 

2, WHITE HART STREET, PATERNOSTER SQUARE, E.G. 

NEW YORK: 64 & 66, FIFTH AVENUE 

1909 



CHISWICK PRESS : CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO. 
TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON. 



PREFACE 

AT a meeting of the Committee of the Explosives Section 
of the ' Seventh International Congress of Applied 
Chemistry held on 5th December, 1908, it was proposed by 
Mr. Guttmann, and carried unanimously, that a history of 
the rise and progress of the Explosives Industry in the British 
Isles should be compiled. A publication sub-committee was 
formed, consisting of: 

Captain T. G. Tulloch, late R.A. (ex officio). 

Major Cooper- Key, late R.A., H.M. Chief Inspector of 

Explosives. 

Oscar Guttmann, M. Inst. C.E., F.I.C. 
W. R. Hodgkinson, Ph.D., J.S., F.I.C., Ordnance Col- 
lege, Woolwich. 

The Executive Committee of the Congress was approached 
for a grant in aid of the expenses, and very cordially re- 
sponded. 

The sub-committee succeeded in securing the services of 
Mr. E. A. Brayley Hodgetts as Editor. 

The preparation and compilation of the vast amount of 
information embodied in this book has been a labour of con- 
siderable magnitude, and has involved an amount of research, 
investigation and cross-reference, which can only be appre- 
ciated by those who have worked in similar fields. 

vii 



W24968 



Vlll 



PREFACE 



I therefore feel that not only the Explosives Industry, 
but also posterity, are under obligation especially to Mr. 
Guttmann, to whom the book owes its inception in the first 
instance, and to whose great energy, vast stores of knowledge, 
and exceptionally complete library the successful compilation 
of this elaborate work is chiefly due. 

Nor are his colleagues on the publication sub-committee, 
Major Cooper-Key and Professor Hodgkinson, less deserving 
of gratitude. Despite the arduous nature of their official en- 
gagements, they have greatly assisted in the successful carry- 
ing out of this task. 

Mr. Brayley Hodgetts may, I think, be congratulated on 
the manner in which he has very successfully surmounted the 
difficulties of compressing the large quantities of material at 
the command of the publication sub-committee into a form 
which suffers neither from redundancy nor incompleteness. 
He has dealt with the large amount of scientific matter placed 
in his hands with much literary skill, whilst the task of editing 
the historical and manufacturing details could not have been 
done with more tact and ability. 

I say advisedly that posterity is under obligation to 
these gentlemen, because in years to come I hope that this 
book will be looked upon as a work of reference connecting 
the past with the future, for it is, to the best of my knowledge, 
the only work of the kind containing so complete a history of 
the manufacture of explosives in this country. 

The ready response to the inquiries of the sub-committee 
for material for the work was most gratifying, some gentlemen 
and firms going considerably out of their way to write articles 
which testify to the time and labour they must have bestowed 



PREFACE ix 

upon them, and the Committee of the Explosives Section of 
the Congress take this opportunity of expressing to all these 
gentlemen their grateful thanks for the great assistance they 
have given. 

The Committee also desire especially to mention, in 
addition to the names of the gentlemen who appear as the 
authors of special articles in the Table of Contents, Pro- 
fessor P. Philips Bedson, Mr. Herbert Blanch, Mr. J. W. 
Gordon, Mr. Rhys Jenkins, and Mr. E. H. Stone, who have 
rendered valuable services. 

It will be noticed that specific reference to the latest type 
of machines, processes and methods of manufacture, have 
been advisedly avoided, primarily because the work deals 
with past history, and also because it would be invidious to 
mention any one machine, process or method, without men- 
tioning all an impossible task in the space available. For 
such latter information the reader is referred to current 
literature. 

The portraits which appear are confined to those who were 
connected prominently with the epoch-making events in the 
past of the Explosives Industry. It is, however, a source of 
pride and gratification to the Committee that among the 
portraits should be that of their revered President, Sir 
Andrew Noble, whose researches and labours in the Ex- 
plosives field, and in many contiguous ones, are so deservedly 
renowned. 

The illustrations of works, etc., are merely intended to 
serve as types, or are of historical interest. 

In conclusion, I wish to add a word of thanks to the 
publishers, Messrs. Whittaker and Co., who undertook to 



x PREFACE 

carry out all the wishes of the publication sub-committee on 
terms which indicated their desire to lighten as much as 
possible the work and responsibility. 

T. G. TULLOCH, 

Vice- President (Explosives Section) 
Vllth International Congress of Applied Chemistry. 

LONDON,. May, 1909. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE. By CAPTAIN T. G. TULLOCH, late R.A vii 

HISTORICAL PART 

HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER. By E. A. BRAYLEY HODGETTS . 3 

RESEARCHES ON GUNPOWDER. By G. W. MACDONALD, M.Sc. 40 

NITROCELLULOSE. By G. W. MACDONALD, M.Sc 47 

NITRO-GLYCERINE AND NITRO-GLYCERINE EXPLOSIVES. 

By HENRY DE MOSENTHAL, F.I.C., F.C.S. 66 

RESEARCHES ON NITRO-GLYCERINE. By G. W. MAC- 
DONALD, M.Sc . . -77 

PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES. By HENRY DE MOSENTHAL, F.I.C., F.C.S. 81 

PERCUSSION CAPS. By E. WYNDHAM HULME, B.A. ... 94 
BICKFORD'S SAFETY-FUSE. By SIR GEORGE J. SMITH . .112 

MILITARY FIREWORKS. By COLONEL J. R. J. JOCELYN, LATE R.A. 123 

PLEASURE FIREWORKS. By PHILLIP PAIN 131 

LEGISLATION. By E. A. BRAYLEY HODGETTS 137 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 170 

CHRONOLOGY (1242-1700) 180 

LIST OF GUNPOWDER MAKERS UP TO 1800 .... 302 

DESCRIPTIVE PART 

EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS: 

THE ROYAL LABORATORY, WOOLWICH. By COLONEL SIR HILARO 

W. W. BARLOW, BART., R.A 307 

THE ROYAL GUNPOWDER FACTORY, WALTHAM ABBEY. By 

COLONEL SIR FREDERIC L. NATHAN, R.A. . . . .316 

THE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT. By MAJOR J. H. MANSELL, R.A. . 324 

xi 



xii CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS: 

AMMONAL EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD \ . .. 330 

ARMSTRONG, SIR W. G., WHITWORTH AND Co., LTD. : . . 330 

BENNETT, WM., SONS, AND Co 333 

BICKFORD, SMITH AND Co., LTD. . " . '. . . . . 334 

BIRMINGHAM METAL AND MUNITIONS Co., LTD 335 

BRADLEY, OSWALD . 337 

BRAIN, F . . ... . 338 

BRITISH EXPLOSIVES SYNDICATE, LTD. . , . . . . 339 

BRITISH AND FOREIGN FUSE SYNDICATE, LTD. . . . . 340 

BRITISH ELECTRIC DETONATOR Co., LTD. . . . r . 340 

BRITISH WESTFALITE, LTD. 340 

BROCK, C. T, AND Co . . -. 341 

BRUNTON, W., AND Co , .. .. 344 

CHILWORTH GUNPOWDER Co., LTD. . 344 

CLAYTON AND Co., LTD ... 346 

COTTON POWDER Co., LTD. 346 

CRANE AND Co., LTD. . 352 

CURTIS'S AND HARVEY, LTD - 354 

DICKSON, F. C., AND Co., BLACKBECK '. 365 

E. C. POWDER Co., LTD 365 

ELECTRIC AND ORDNANCE ACCESSORIES Co., LTD 365 

ELEY BROTHERS, LTD. 366 

ELTERWATER GUNPOWDER Co., LTD 371 

EXPLOSIVES AND CHEMICAL PRODUCTS, LTD. . . ... 372 

HAMILTON, C. L 373 

HENRITE EXPLOSIVES, LTD 373 

HODSMAN, JAMES * . . 373 

JENKINS, T., AND Co 373 

JENNISON AND Co. . . ....... 373 

JESSOP, A., AND SONS 374 

JESSOP, BEN., AND Co '. . 374 

JOYCE, F., AND Co., LTD. . . . . . , . . 374 

KING'S NORTON METAL Co., LTD. . . . ... . 376 

KYNOCH, LTD. . '. . . 380 

LANCASHIRE EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD. . * 380 

LUDLOW, F. G. . . . . . ' .' . . .381 

MINERS' SAFETY EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD. . . . . .381 

NATIONAL EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD. . ' 385 

NEW EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD . . 386 



CONTENTS xiii 

PAGE 

PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS continued. 

NOBEL'S EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD 395 

PAIN, J., AND SONS 405 

PATENT ELECTRIC SHOT-FIRING Co 406 

RlLEY, M., AND SONS .... 406 

ROBURITE EXPLOSIVES Co., LTD 407 

SCHULTZ GUNPOWDER Co., LTD 409 

SEDGWICK GUNPOWDER Co., LTD .411 

SHAW, H., AND SONS 412 

STEELITE EXPLOSIVES, LTD 412 

SWANSEA SAFETY-FUSE Co., LTD 412 

UNITY SAFETY-FUSE Co., LTD 412 

VlCKERS, SONS, AND MAXIM, LTD 413 

WAKEFIELD, W. H., AND Co., LTD 415 

WELLS, J 416 

WILDER, W. AND J 417 

LIST OF MANUFACTURERS OF PICRIC ACID . 418 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FIG. PAGE 

1. SIR ANDREW NOBLE, BART., K.C.B., F.R.S. (From a portrait painted 

by H. Harries Brown. Photographed by Paul Laib) Frontispiece 

2. ROGER BACON. (Photograph of a painting at Knole Castle. Copy- 

right, C. Essenheigh Corke, Sevenoaks) 7 

3. FROM WALTER DE MILLEMETE'S MANUSCRIPT, A.D. 1326. (By kind 

permission of the Dean of Christ Church) . . . . .13 

4. ENGLISH STAMP MILL IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY . . .15 

5. ENGLISH STAMP MILL IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY . . .17 

6. CHARCOAL CYLINDERS IN 1798 (FRONT VIEW) 20 

7. CHARCOAL CYLINDERS IN 1798 (BACK VIEW) ... .21 

8. SULPHUR SUBLIMING CHAMBER IN 1798 (FRONT VIEW) . . .22 

9. SULPHUR SUBLIMING CHAMBER IN 1798 (SIDE VIEW) . . .23 

10. POWDER MILL IN 1798 (OUTSIDE VIEW) 24 

11. STONE INCORPORATING MILLS IN 1798 25 

12. STONE INCORPORATING MILLS AT WALTHAM ABBEY . . .27 

13. PRESSING, BREAKING, AND CORNING POWDER IN 1798 . . 30 



xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FIG. PAGE 

14. CORNING SIEVE IN 1798 . . .31 

15. SlFTING-SCREEN IN 1798 . . . . . . ... 32 

16. DUSTING-SCREEN IN 1798 . ... . . _". 33 

17. INTERIOR OF A DRYING-STOVE IN 1798 . ; . . . .34 

18. GUN REST AND PROOF BOARDS IN 1798 . 35 

19. CHARLES BERWICK CURTIS . . . . . - . - 37 

20. CHRISTIAN FREDERICK SCHONBEIN 49 

21. GENERAL WILHELM FREIHERR LENK VON WOLFSBERG . . . 53 

22. EUSTACE PRENTICE. (From a photograph by the London Stereo- 

scopic Company) .......... 57 

23. SIR FREDERICK ABEL, K.C.B., F.R.S ~~~. .61 

24. ALFRED NOBEL. (Copyright, Gosta Florman, Stockholm) . . 67 

25. DR. HERMANN SPRENGEL, F.R.S. (Copyright, Maul! and Fox, 

London) 1 85 

26. EDWARD CHARLES HOWARD, F.R.S. (Copyright, Miss M. A. New- 

lands, London) l .......... 95 

27. WILLIAM ELEY 97 

28. FORSYTH MAGAZINE (ASSEMBLED) 101 

29. FORSYTH MAGAZINE (DETACHED) 101 

30. WILLIAM BICKFORD 115 

31. A GREEN MAN 124 

32. SIR WILLIAM CONGREVE, BART. (From a painting by T. Lonsdale 

in the Royal Artillery Institution at Woolwich) . . . .127 

33. COLONEL SIR VIVIAN DERING MAJENDIE, K.C.B. (Copyright, 

Mayall and Co., Ltd., London) l 157 

34. VIEW OF OLD WALTHAM FACTORY IN 1735. (Reprinted by kind 

permission from the "Victoria County History of Essex," vol. ii) 161 

35. PLAN OF STOWMARKET FACTORY 163 

36. VIEW OF A PART OF THE NOBEL WORKS AT ARDEER . . .165 

37. DIAGRAM OF THE TRADE IN CARTRIDGES 369 

38. OLD GUNCOTTON CARTRIDGE 392 

39. OLD GUNCOTTON YARN AND CHARGES 393 

1 Reproduced from " Monumenta pulveris pyrii," by Oscar Guttmann. 



HISTORICAL PART 



THE RISE AND PROGRESS 

OF THE 

BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER 
BY E. A. BRAYLEY HODGETTS 



I ^HE highest development of civilization has synchronized with 
JL the increase and growth of the means of destruction at the 
disposal of mankind. To the superficial untrained mind, and more 
particularly to the loose-thinking satirist of modern progress, the above 
statement will appear as at once a paradox and an additional argument 
against the highly organized and artificial structure of contemporary 
society. But dispassionate reflection will show that the better the 
means possessed by society of self-preservation, and consequently of 
defence and offence, the more assured must be its continuance, the less 
exposed to disturbance and interruption its natural growth. The 
evolution of society has, however, proceeded from stage to stage 
by conflict, for, as the late Sir W. R. Grove, the discoverer of the 
correlation of the physical forces, postulated, the law of antagonism is 
the foundation of progress. It is by his superior means of destruction 
that man has conquered the wild beasts of the field and forest, and it 
is thanks to the same means that the cultured races have succeeded in 
imposing their civilization on barbarians and savages. If, however, the 
increased power of destruction possessed by modern society makes our 
means of defence and offence more deadly, the actual effect of the 
invention or discovery of these destructive methods has been to render 
modern warfare increasingly humane. In the old days of hand-to-hand 
combat, the proportion of killed and wounded in a battle was far greater 

3 



4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

than has been the case since the invention of gunpowder, and to-day 

the terrific destructive force of modern high explosives is such as 

entirely to revolutionize military tactics, the object of the attacking 

force being to make itself invisible, and by an extended front offer no 

target to the enemy, indeed it might almost be said that in the modern 

art of war more importance is attached to the preservation of the lives of 

one's own troops than to the destruction of those of the enemy. Certain 

..it is.that.the carnage of modern warfare, in spite of the infinitely greater 

1 ' efficfencjp ; (X- engines of war, is incomparably small and almost insig- 

r jbft{iot by .-the side of the wholesale devastations of the middle ages. 

Still more beneficent in its influence on humanity has been the 
effect of the development of the industrial uses of explosives. By means 
of blasting powder, and particularly of dynamite, mankind has been 
enabled to transform the face of the earth. An exhaustive inquiry into 
the first uses and applications of the explosive which is still commonly 
called gunpowder, though its employment as a military propellent has 
been discontinued by civilized countries, still presents fascinating 
features to the antiquarian. 

In the " Handbook on the Manufacture of Gunpowder," by Captain 
F. M. Smith, R.A,, printed by the Government in 1871, gunpowder is 
stated to have been used in the earliest ages, " principally amongst the 
Eastern Nations." Captain Smith refers to "a code of Indian laws, 1 
supposed to have been compiled in the time of Moses " which contains 
" reference to cannon and guns," as well as to the claim laid by the 
Chinese to the early invention of powder; thus, according to the writers 
who insist on the fabulous antiquity of gunpowder, Schwartz or Roger 
Bacon, who had hitherto been regarded as entitled to the merit of the 
invention, had only re-discovered what had been known thousands of 
years before. Captain Smith, while admitting that substances resembling 
gunpowder, but composed principally of saltpetre, may have been used 
in the East at a very early period, considers it extremely improbable, 
however, for gunpowder proper to have been known and used as such 

1 The Gentoo Laws. 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER 5 

before comparatively modern times. He argues that although the 
deflagrating properties of saltpetre, which is found as a natural product 
in many parts of Asia, must have attracted early attention, and although 
its employment as an ingredient of burning compositions was probably 
general, it is too much to believe that the use of firearms, which would 
have given one nation such an advantage over another, should ever have 
been forgotten after it had once become known. He therefore con- 
cluded that the terms used in ancient manuscripts must have received 
modern interpretations which were foreign to their original meaning, 
for, as he points out, even if gunpowder were known thousands of years 
ago, it had little interest until used as a propellent; and as the use of 
firearms in Europe dates from about the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, he maintains that their employment in other parts of the globe 
could not have been general at a much earlier date. 

Oscar Guttmann, in " The Manufacture of Explosives," asserts that 
the Arabians knew of saltpetre as early as the eighth century, but adds 
that " it is not until the time of Roger Bacon, in the thirteenth century, 
that we find any mention of the property that saltpetre has of 
deflagrating with burning bodies." He also discredits the supposed 
antiquity of gunpowder. That the Chinese did not know of it appears 
plain to him from the fact that they were frightened when three pieces 
of ordnance, which the Portuguese of Macao had presented to them, 
were tried. 

With regard to the Hindus, he demonstrates the correctness of 
Captain Smith's shrewd suspicion as to the inaccuracy of translators, 
and points out that had the Hindus really invented gunpowder, the 
inhabitants of Mozambique would very probably have been less alarmed 
than they were by the report of the guns of Vasco de Gama in 1497, 
seeing that close trading relations existed between India and these 
parts, and that the eastern coast of Africa was inhabited by Malays. 
Professor P. C. Ray, in his " Hindu Chemistry," from a careful study 
of the question, also comes to the conclusion that the Hindus did not 
know of gunpowder. 



6 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Guttmann adds: " It is equally hard (on the existing evidence) to 
believe that the Arabians knew of gunpowder as a propelling agent 
before the year 1313." 

He cites from the Annals of the Town of Ghent an entry to the 
effect that the use of gunpowder was invented in the fourteenth century 
by a German monk; but considers that although Berthold Schwarz, 
the Franciscan monk of Freiburg, was without doubt the inventor of 
firearms, there is nothing to prove that he also invented gunpowder. 

Guttmann sums up a very careful and exhaustive review of all the 
available evidence, and comes to the conclusion that gunpowder was 
developed from Greek fire and known years before cannon or guns were 
thought of. The use of purer materials in making it developed its 
propulsive power and led to the subsequent invention of cannon and 
guns. The Arabians were the first to make compounds resembling 
gunpowder about i 280, whilst the idea of utilising the propulsive force 
inherent in the same, that is the invention of guns and cannon, was 
originated by Berthold Schwarz, a monk of Freiburg, in about 1313. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Hime, R.A., in his "Gunpowder and 
Ammunition," published in 1904, whilst admitting that the attention of 
the ancients was naturally attracted by the efflorescences which form 
on certain stones, on walls, and in caves and cellars, and that the 
Hindus and nomad Arabs must have noticed the deflagration of at least 
one of them when a fire was lit on it, points out that these efflorescences 
consisted of various salts, so similar in appearance and taste, that early 
observers succeeded in discriminating only one of them, common salt, 
from the rest. He shows that the radical difference between potash 
and soda was not finally established by Du Hamel before 1736, and 
maintains that no trace of saltpetre has hitherto been found anywhere 
before the thirteenth century; for the Greek alchemists of preceding 
centuries are silent, and in the earliest recipe we possess for Greek 
fire, No. 26 of the " Liber Ignium," ascribed to Marcus Graecus (Paris 
MS. 1300; Munich MS. 1438), there is no saltpetre. Although 
sal coctus is translated in M. Hoefer's " Histoire de la Chimie " \>y salt- 




[Copyright. C. Essenheigh Corke, Sevenoaks.'] 

FIG. 2. ROGER BACON. 
(Photograph of a painting at Knole Castle.) 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER 9 

petre; MM. Reinaud and Fave contend that such a rendering was 
unjustifiable. Colonel Hime then proceeds to the demolition of the 
theory that the Arabs knew saltpetre in the ninth century by showing 
how Berthelot had discovered two Gebers ; the real original Arab Geber 
knowing nothing of saltpetre, whilst the other, who was a Western 
and did, lived about the time of the year 1 300. Turning from the Arabs 
to the Hindus, Colonel Hime finds that there is no word for saltpetre 
in Sanskrit. Although the Egyptians called it Chinese snow, Colonel 
Hime does not think this justifies the conclusion that saltpetre was 
discovered by the Chinese. Friar Bacon, whose " De Secretis" was 
written before 1249, and Hassan-el-Rammah, who flourished 1275-95, 
were thoroughly acquainted with the salt. Yet Bacon speaks of it as 
one would speak of a substance recently discovered and little known. 

Space will not permit us to follow Colonel Hime's closely reasoned 
chain of destructive criticism, nor to reproduce his ingenious reading of 
Bacon's cryptogram, of which he says that the method Bacon appears 
to have adopted was that known long afterwards as the " Argyle 
cipher," of which an example from Thackeray's " Esmond" is given 
by him. The result is so overwhelmingly conclusive that his reading 
has received prompt and universal acceptance. 

Chapters IX and X are proved by him to give instructions for 
refining saltpetre, and his interpretation of Bacon's famous anagram in 
Chapter XI, is equally brilliant. The passage runs as follows: 

" Item pondus totum 30. Sed tamen salis petrae LURU VOPO VIR 
CAN UTRIET sulphuris; et sic facies tonitruum et coruscationem, 
si scias artificium. Videas tamen utrum loquor aenigmate aut secundum 
veritatem." 

Which interpreted into English, and omitting the anagram, means: 

"Let the total weight (of the ingredients) be 30. However, of 
saltpetre ... of sulphur; and with such a mixture you will produce a 
thundering noise and a bright flash if you know ' the trick.' You may 
find (by actual experiment) whether I am writing riddles to you or the 
plain truth." 



io BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Colonel H ime then re-arranges the letters of the anagram as follows : 

RVIIPARTVNOUCORULVET, 

or, since u and v are interchangeable, makes the whole passage in the 
original read : 

" sed tarnen salis petrae recipe vii partes, v novellae coruli, v et 
sulphuris" etc.. that is 

" but take 7 parts of saltpetre, 5 of young hazelwood, and 5 of 
sulphur," etc. 

But Colonel Hime does not base Bacon's claims on these anagrams 

o 

and shows on grounds independent of the steganogram and the anagram, 
that Bacon was in possession of an explosive. Colonel Hime, while 
destroying Marcus Graecus, whose tract he says was the work of 
neither one author nor one period, and of whom he concludes that he 
was " as unreal as the imaginary Greek original of the tract which bears 
his name," does not claim for Bacon more than that he discovered but 
did not invent gunpowder; and maintains that though he knew it 
exploded, Bacon was not aware of its projective force. 

This conclusion, while amply vindicated, will hardly satisfy the 
adherents of Schwartz, who will no doubt continue to maintain that the 
discovery of gunpowder as an incendiary only was of comparatively 
small utility, and that by burying his invention in a cipher, Bacon had 
forfeited the gratitude of humanity. At least, it does not appear that 
Bacon's invention was of great benefit to his own country, for previous 
to the reign of Queen Elizabeth most of the gunpowder used in 
England was imported from abroad. John Barbour, Archdeacon of 
Aberdeen, writing his metrical life of Robert Bruce in 1375, says 
describing the invasion of Scotland by Edward III in 1327, 

Twa noweltys that dai thai saw, 

That forouth in Scotland had been nane, 

Tymmris for helmys war the tane, 

That thaim thoucht than off grete bewte 

And alsua wondre for to se; 

The tothyr crakys war off wer, 

That thai befor herd nevir er. 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER n 

If Edward III used "crakys" of war in 1327, and Schwarz is to 
have the credit claimed for him, there seems to be no alternative but 
to accept the theory adopted by Colonel Hime and expounded in his 
paper on " Our earliest Cannon" before the Royal Artillery Institution 
in 1900. He there gives the date of Schwarz's invention as 1313, 
as in the Ghent annals, and shows that in 1314 the Commercial 
Records of Ghent contain more than one entry to the effect that guns 
and powder had been despatched during that year to England. 

In the plate on p. 13 is shown a bottle-shaped mortar (Hime 
calls it a dart-throwing vase), reproduced from an illuminated Latin 
MS. belonging to Christ Church, Oxford, dated 1326, and dedicated 
by its English author, Walter de Millemete, to Edward III. 

When the Scotch defended Berwick against Edward II, in 1319, 
the soul of the defence was John Crab, "a Flemyne of gret subtilte," 
Peter van Vullacre, who had been " Maitre des ribau dequins " at 
Bruges in 1339, took service with the English force which was to have 
invaded France in 1345, but did not actually set out until 1346; and 
he it was who in all probability commanded the guns at Cressy, for 
which Napoleon III gave us credit. 

Whatever the date of the invention of cannon, artillery was 
evidently known in 1380, because Chaucer, in his " House of Fame," 
written at that date, has the following lines: 

As swift as pelet out of gunne, 
When fyr is in the poudre runne. 

There is unquestionable testimony that cannon, both brass and 
iron, were employed on board English ships of war in 1338, testimony 
at least sufficient to satisfy General Sir H. Brackenbury, as a reference 
to vol. iv, p. 291 of the " Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution" 
will show. Two years later the English Navy employed guns at the 
battle of Sluys, but without effect. 

The gun depicted by Froissart, which may be taken to be a fairly 
accurate representation of the type used at Cressy, shows a great 



12 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

advance on \\iepot defer of 1326-7 ; it is a breech-loader which should 
certainly have fired iron or leaden case balls, and may even have fired 
stone shot the size of the bore. 

To return to powder, the first distinct reference to gunpowder 
occurs in 12 Edward III, 1338, when it is mentioned in an indenture. 
Francis Grose in his " History of the English Army" (1801), makes 
us suspicious of these early records, and shows how Cotton, who in his 
" Abridgement of the Records of the Tower of London," says that 
" pardon was made out 14 Edward III to Thomas de Brookhall for a 
debt of 32 tons of powder," misread the original entry where the word 
pomadre, meaning cyder, is used. 

William Henry Hart of the Public Record Office, in his very 
interesting pamphlet on the " Early Manufacture of Gunpowder in 
England," published in 1855, tells us that John Cook, clerk of the 
king's great wardrobe, in an account dated loth May, 1346, stated that 
912 pounds of saltpetre and 886 pounds of quick sulphur were supplied 
to the King for his guns. 

The old method of obtaining saltpetre was to collect vegetable and 
animal refuse containing nitrogen, the sweepings of slaughter-houses, 
weeds, etc., into heaps and to mix this with limestone, old mortar, earth 
and ashes. These heaps were sheltered from the rain, and kept moist 
from time to time with runnings from stables and other urine. 

As late as in the reign of James I (1624), we find in an indenture 
between the King and Thomas Warricke, Peter Sparke, Michael 
Townshend and John Fells, the statement that "for making of the 
saltpetre which hath been formerly and now is made ... it has been 
found a matter of mere necessity to dig houses, cellars, vaults, stables, 
dovehouses and such like places, wherewith divers of his Majesty's 
subjects have found themselves grieved." We are also informed that 
the conveyance of the liquors, vessels, tubs, ashes, etc., from place to 
place in carts had been a frequent source of nuisance and litigation. 

The above persons purporting to have invented a new process for 
making saltpetre undertake to make it " as good and perfect as any 



flDhraiimtunuuitmt 



cefcmeffrwiutpittmtaie 




FIG. 3. FROM WALTER DE MILLEMETE'S MANUSCRIPT. A.D. 1326. 
(By kind permission of the Dean of Christ Church.) 



i 4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

hath formerly been, and shall be vented at cheaper and easier rates 
than formerly his Majesty or his loving subjects have paid for the 
same, which said saltpetre as His Majesty is informed is to be or may 
be made of an artificial mixture or composition of chalk, all sorts of 
limestone and lime, marl, divers minerals, and other nitrous mines and 
other kind of ordinary earth, street dirt, or rubbish, stable dung, empty- 
ing of vaults, the excrements of all living creatures, their bodies 
putrified, all vegetables putrified or rotted, or the ashes of them, and 
these or any of these mixed together in proportion as they may be 
most conveniently had, and shall be found most useful in such places 
where the said works shall be thought fit to be erected, which said 
artificial mixture or composition of any or all the foresaid ingredients 
is often times moistened with urine of men and beasts, petre, or nitrous 
wells, and springs, and all other concrete juices and blood of all sorts 
as can be gotten, and shall be fit and convenient for it, and divers 
times turned and removed, by which means the mixture in time 
digesteth, fermenteth, and ripeneth, from whence there is engendered 
the seed or mine of saltpetre which afterwards is to be extracted with 
common water, urine, the water of petre or nitrous wells, and springs, 
and then either breathed away in the sun or air, or stoved with gentle 
heat or boiled with a stronger fire with his proper additament of ashes, 
lime, and such like for separating the common salt and other mixtures 
naturally growing in the liquor and afterwards refined into perfect 
saltpetre." 

The King then granted the patentees licence to exercise their 
invention for a term of twenty-one years and to set up houses for 
preparing the artificial earth, etc. 

On 26th December of the same year "was issued a proclamation, 
commanding that no dovehouses or cellars be paved, except that part 
of the cellars where the wine and beer is laid, in order that the growth 
of saltpetre might not be obstructed." (Patent Roll, 22 James I, part 4, 
No. 9 dorso.) 

In March, 1378, in the first year of Richard II, Thomas Norwich 









J- '(nt it dfituafr trnff, ine moueinent z&ftfreof ij ejfuc 6 /Qcihfte. that after if 

1 S ~y -* J c/ - 

( cncf in iJ fH'OW ~ J^~ne tverfman It/fnf a turnft tnt saurf. mitf, tnay trtfrntf' 
any e/fitr fufrnpf / iff an denser or Aifrr^ antfjft ffe tn'ffj snaffnet (e^f^s i 
i M 'mefifi , fut ct~6 feat t fif fn>u(ftr, antCterne it affat enf tnt/anf . J^r ig f f <fK -^"f 
L/i r>r>l meuftftfip wKctff & avfifff arftfrte ^ Hnfd tfie faaterne n>euet/i 
\ \ a.fa> (Z~Zx!J fn (^ fantrrnt (J ntteiu td t f>f HsfcrtTe Or t-eaxr(trt( O 



I tfff tffff/f JLs *x<f(f wrctl sm<f r*tift> Orl^S fT^fa tnfffrfg 

s i ! wj>*ri t ~f fymegvet tf*tfff 
! f rnjfa fj* 4 feuf 



<v> ff er-*nt<fff nri/Tj Hi Uffffaj a tUM 




FIG. 4. ENGLISH STAMP MILL IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. 



16 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

was ordered to buy saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal to be sent to the 
Castle of Brest, and in 1414 Henry V decreed that no gunpowder should 
be taken out of the Kingdom without special licence. Henry VI in 1457 
appointed as Master of the Ordnance for life John Judde, merchant of 
London, who was skilled in the devising of warlike instruments, and 
had made at his own expense sixty guns called serpentines, and twenty 
tons of " stuff for gunpowder of saltpetre and sulphur." 

We find in 1512 a Th. Hart making gunpowder in Rochester 
Castle, and in 1514 a house let by the new Hospital of our Lady 
Bishopsgate Without for the making of gunpowder; further, the 
appointment of Hans Wolf, a foreigner, to be one of the King's gun- 
powder makers in the Tower of London and elsewhere, and in 1531 
Thomas A Lee, one of the King's gunners, to be principal searcher 
and maker of saltpetre. In 1555 Henry Reve erects a gunpowder mill 
on a parcel of pasture ground called " The Crenge," in Rotherhithe, 
and in 1559 there are already tenders by the powder makers for the 
supply of gunpowder. In 1562 John Thomworth of Waltham is in 
treaty, on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, for the purchase of saltpetre, 
sulphur and bow staves for barrels, and presumably a powder-mill 
existed there at that time. In 1562 three gunpowder makers, Bryan 
Hogge, Robert Thomas and Francis A Lee tendered for the supply 
of gunpowder, the same Lee being described in the particulars of 
leases of Elizabeth in 1578 as gunpowder maker to the Queen, and 
having a gunpowder mill and pond " in the tenure of Thomas Lee, 
deceased and now of Francis Lee, his son, in Rotherhithe, near the 
Thames." This was probably the mill erected by Reve in 1555.. It is 
to be noted, however, that in a petition in 1575 Lee calls himself 
" Francis Leigh, gunpowder maker to the Council," and says that he 
and his father and brother have been for fifty years " The greatest 
dealers therein, and he has all the implements." The gunpowder mill 
at Leigh Place, near Godstone, in Surrey, which existed about 1560, 
and was later on the property of the Evelyns, may well have also been 
erected by the Lees or Leighs. In 1576 one John Bovyat seems to 




rg~ff~fi" 



i 



JL// 



fjffp; 



t 

tfftrtn> 

</>(* *fr free 



trtcJ LJ 



'oqi 1 * 



S-wKteCe (T) tTfctvfitefe fj) furnelK ttf ftrtcrri-zfE *nM' t 'T anSafie ifftarCt 



r samkfr* _ 






t</ xT"v / J 

Cf*t tfie jtfud'er . i^T/jf fUJneli (D '" fa mcti'en Dearth <( Jfnffrnr L, iGrivfitfr 
jy(_j,-Hj<:6 'fivtrniKat-au'i/lttfi tff/aafity aftftt mi>fie,it rnturtfiCfnJeaufnt^ tc^^- 

-ivreff ''ff ancfffir (rantHf* O CZV/iercen f/JfJivtJ \P /?Mnf>n tt,t f4jj O &, _ 
/- r r ./,-/ // / /- . /- f /&+* > 



\,Jra/fi*t* ->e**rj tJtfurt,f^^frtA- 






T^/ hf tht 



FIG. 5. ENGLISH STAMP MILL IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. 

C 



i8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

have received a patent for making saltpetre and gunpowder "from 
stone, mineral and other substance not now used therein," and in 1580 
one Sebastian Orlandini and John Smithe seem to have erected clan- 
destinely a glass furnace in a gunpowder mill in Ratcliffe. 

Until the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign there had been 
free trade in gunpowder, but then as now, the country became subject 
to war scares, and the menacing attitude assumed by Spain compelled 
the Government to take a serious view of the question of national 
defence. Commissions or monopolies were therefore granted to private 
persons for the manufacture of gunpowder ; and so we find that in 
1588 George Evelyn, Richard Hills and John Evelyn were given 
licence and authority for the term of eleven years " to dig, open and 
work for saltpetre," anywhere they liked except in the City of London 
and two miles outside it and the northern counties of York, North- 
umberland, Westmoreland, Cumberland, and the Bishopric of Durham. 
George Constable was given in 1589 a similar licence for these 
northern counties. John Grange and Ralph Hockenhull were also 
engaged in making gunpowder, and in the following year Thomas and 
Robert Robinson were given the right over London and Westminster. 
These patentees or monopolists appointed their own saltpetre men 
under their respective licences to dig and search for saltpetre, and to 
call upon the local authorities to provide carriage for the liquors " fit 
for making saltpetre." These saltpetre men often abused their privi- 
leges and were hated and abhorred by the rest of the community, their 
conduct frequently giving cause for litigation. 

The Evelyns appear to have been the first manufacturers of gun- 
powder on a large scale in the United Kingdom, and the licence 
conferred on the Robinsons was transferred to them in 1596, so that 
they practically held the monopoly. George Evelyn is said to have 
learned the art in Flanders, and was the grandfather of the famous 
John Evelyn. 

There are numerous covenants on record wherein various members 
of the Evelyn family undertake in conjunction with partners of different 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER 19 

names to deliver yearly to the Tower of London certain quantities of 
gunpowder. In 1620 James I granted a license "to make and work 
for saltpetre and gunpowder" to George, Marquis of Buckingham, 
High Admiral of England, George, Lord Carew, Master of the 
Ordnance, and Sir Lionel Cranfield, Master of the Court of Wards and 
Liveries. In the letters patent, dated 24th January, reference is made 
to the "many abuses of sundry inferior persons" who had been 
engaged in the saltpetre industry, and the frequent complaints to which 
these had given rise; and to the determination to import this material 
from abroad in consequence, but " finding that the same cannot be 
performed wholly " from foreign parts without much inconvenience," it 
was deemed expedient, whilst not excluding foreign importations, " to 
continue the making thereof using such vigilance and care in the 
ordering and managing thereof as may best tend to the reformation 
and repressing of those enormities and abuses wherewith such inferior 
persons did most infest our loving subjects." 

In 1623, ostensibly for the prevention of weak or defective powder, 
a proclamation was issued by James I prohibiting its manufacture, as 
well as that of saltpetre, except under the King's commission, and also 
its export, and directing that all gunpowder be proved and marked by 
the sworn proof-master. 

At last in 1626 we find the East India Company importing salt- 
petre. The Company erected powder-mills in Surrey, and its renewed 
Charter in 1693 stipulated for the annual provision of 500 tons of 
saltpetre to the Ordnance. From this time forward we hear of no 
difficulty, at least in England, of obtaining this chief ingredient of 
gunpowder. 

Guttmann is of opinion that gunpowder was originally prepared in 
stone mortars by hand, and that as the consumption increased, mill- 
stones were used. That the quantities were very small at first, is shown 
by the fact that the King issued a writ, dated 25th November, 1346, 
commanding that all the purchasable saltpetre and sulphur should be 
bought, and that the quantity thus obtained did not amount to more 




SO 

6 



\\ 




4 




26 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

than 750 pounds of saltpetre and 310 pounds of quick sulphur; whilst 
in the September of the following year a further quantity of 2,021 
pounds of saltpetre and 466 pounds of quick sulphur was purchased. 

It may be interesting to inquire into the ingredients of the earliest 
gunpowder. Bacon's recipe, as interpreted by Colonel Hime, gives 
the following proportions of the ingredients in one hundred parts: 

Saltpetre 41.2, Charcoal 29.4, Sulphur 29.4. 

The next complete recipe is given by Dr. John Arderne, of 
Newark, who commenced to practise as a surgeon before 1350. He 
says : " Prenez j.li. de souffre vif ; de charbones de saulx (i. weloghe) ij. 
li; de saltpetre vj. li. Si les fetez bien et sotelment moudre sur un 
pierre de marbre, puis bultez le poudre parmy vn sotille couerchief; 
cest poudre vault a gettere pelottes de fer, ou de plom, on d'areyne, 
oue vn instrument que 1'em appelle gonne." This works out in 
hundred parts at: 

Saltpetre 66.6, Charcoal 22.2, Sulphur n.i. 

This recipe, while interesting, as being one of the earliest authentic 
prescriptions on record, is, however, discredited by Hime, who describes 
it as a literal translation of a recipe for rocket composition given by the 
apocryphal Marcus Graecus, and points out that its proportions are 
entirely out of keeping with those of the French powder of 1338, 
which, however, is incomplete, the quantity of charcoal being omitted. 
It is interesting to compare this composition with the oldest German 
one contained in " Cod. membr. Saec. XIV, Rothenburg, o. T." It was : 

Saltpetre 58.2, Sulphur 23.6, Charcoal 18.2. 

According to Nathaniel Nye ("The Art of Gunnery," 1648), gun- 
powder was made in the following proportions: 

In 1380. Saltpetre, brimstone, and charcoal, in equal parts. 
In 1410. Saltpetre 3 parts, brimstone 2 parts, charcoal 2 parts. 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER 



27 



In 1480. Saltpetre 8 parts, brimstone 3 parts, charcoal 2 parts. 

In 1520. Saltpetre 4 parts, brimstone i part, charcoal i part. 

In 1647. Pistol powder: Saltpetre 6 parts, brimstone i part, 
charcoal i part. 

Musket powder: Saltpetre 5 parts, brimstone i part, charcoal 
i part. 

Cannon powder : Saltpetre 4 parts, brimstone i part, charcoal 
i part. 




FIG. 12. STONE INCORPORATING MILLS AT WALT HAM ABBEY. 

Colonel Hime gives an interesting chronological table of English 
gunpowder, in which, however, he includes Dr. Arderne's powder as 
well as Bacon's. We shall get a juster view of the constancy of the 
proportions by eliminating these two columns. His table^would then 



28 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

show the steady increase of saltpetre, the most important of the 
ingredients, thus: for cannon powder 

1560. 1647. 1670. 1742. 1781. 

(Whitehorn.) (Nye.) (Turner.) (Robins.) (Watson.) 

Saltpetre . . 50.0 66.6 71.4 75.0 75 

Charcoal . . 33.3 16.6 14.3 12.5 15 

Sulphur . . 16.6 16.6 14.3 125 10 

An equally interesting investigation of the prices of gunpowder 
calculated on the prices of the raw materials, leads the same author to 
the conclusion that English powder cost, in 1378, is. $%d. per pound, 
equal to about us. ^\d. in current coin of our own times. The other 
prices are quoted from Thorold Rogers's " History of Agricultural 
Prices," and mark a steady decline from is. in 1462, equal to about los. 
to-day, to IO|Y/. in 1695, and yd. in 1865. The introduction of corned 
powder brought with it a slight increase of price ; but when the con- 
comitant fall in the purchasing power of money is taken into considera- 
tion, the price of is. id. per pound in 1595 compares favourably from 
the point of view of the purchaser with that of lod. in 1482. Accord- 
ing to Hart, the price of powder seems to have fluctuated between is. 
and lod. in the sixteenth century. The high price of gunpowder was 
largely, if not entirely, due to the difficulty of obtaining, and the 
consequent dearness of, saltpetre. 

The gunpowder in use at the time was commonly called Serpentine 
Powder, and was merely a loose mechanical mixture of three sub- 
stances, and was necessarily more or less dusty or crumbly in nature. 
Its combustion was slow and irregular, and much gas escaped through 
the vent, so that a low velocity was imparted to the shot, with the 
result that the gunners made but poor practice. 

The obvious remedy for these evils was of course to corn the 
powder. It is not surprising therefore that the old fireworks books 
already mention lump powder, and Colonel Hime asserts that long before 
1560 it was in use for hand-guns in England. While its rapid combus- 



HISTORY OF GUNPOWDER 29 

tion caused little or no waste of gas through the vent, and the resultant 
greater strength enabled 2 Ib. of corned to do the work of 3 Ib. of 
serpentine powder, it was at first too strong for cannon, and Whitehorn 
represents that, if used in pieces of ordnance "without great discretion, 
it would quickly break or marre them." 

Commenting on the lawlessness as to the proportions of the 
ingredients, in what he calls the ancient period, Colonel Hime contends 
that the introduction of corning made confusion worse confounded, the 
size of the grain being variable. However, during the second half of 
the fifteenth century, the suitability of large-grained powders for big 
guns was discovered, and in the seventeenth century we already find 
three or four kinds of sieves in use, differing in the size of their meshes, 
so that the coarseness of the grain could be graduated to suit the size 
of the gun for which the particular powder was required. 

With regard to the manufacturing process, the oldest method of 
mixing the ingredients of gunpowder was with mortar and pestle by 
hand, later the pestle was suspended from a spring beam and ulti- 
mately stamp mills were introduced, driven at first by hand, and later 
by horses or water-power. Two illustrations of such mills, from a book 
in the possession of Messrs. E. G. Hulme and Rhys Jenkins, are re- 
produced on pp. 15 and 17, together with the quaint explanation con- 
tained in the book. 1 Incorporating mills were also used at an early 
date, and the use of stamp mills, except for fine sporting powder, was 
prohibited in this country on account of their danger by 1 1 George III, 
cap. 6 1 (1772). 

We have been fortunate in finding a MS. book, evidently com- 
piled by John Ticking, Master Worker of the Royal Faversham Mills 
in the year 1798, now owned by Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey. It is 
beyond the scope of this book to copy in detail the regulations and 
proof for the manufacture of powder, as given in these notes. It 

The hammer mill, R on Fig. 4, represents an iron hammer; but it is well known 
that similar stamps were used by the Cossacks, and the illustration is very much like that 
published in Siemienowicz's " Great Artillery," which was translated into English. 




00 

OS 




FIG. l6. DUSTING-SCREEN IN 1798. 



I) 




CO 
0% 



36 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

seems that at that time three kinds of " King's Powder " were made, 
and respectively marked L G in red for a strong powder, L G in 
blue denoting a powder which was uniform and very durable, and 
L G in white, one that in general was stronger than the blue, but more 
liable to become dusty. 

Charcoal v/as already made in cylinders as shown in Fig. 6, and 
the products of distillation were recovered at the back of the cylinders 
both from the top and the bottom, as shown in Fig. 7. The sulphur 
was sublimed in a large chamber, of which views are eiven in drawings 

*-> O O 

8 and 9, and the powder was worked in incorporating mills, two of 
which were attached to a water-wheel, as shown in Fig. 10. The view 
of the incorporating mill is given in Fig. n, and it shows the com- 
plicated way in which the power was transmitted from the water- 
wheel to the mills by means of cog-wheels. The incorporating mills 
had stone runners, and a photograph of such a mill still in existence at 
Waltham Abbey is shown in Fig. 12. The incorporated powder was 
put into a screw press and the press cake broken up by hand as shown 
in Fig. 13; after this the powder was corned in a corning-sieve, shown 
in Fig. 14, and reeled as shown in Fig. 15. The dusting-screen, as used 
in Faversham, after the drying, is shown in Fig. 16. 

The drying-house shown in Fig. 1 7 is very interesting. The 
room was semi-circular, and the powder laid out on racks arranged 
along the wall in a semi-circle, with a circular rack in the middle. The 
heat was communicated to the room by means of a stove in the shape 
of an iron pot set into the wall in an adjoining room, in such a manner, 
that the bottom was inside the drying-room, and the coal was put into 
it from the adjoining room. A sheet of copper was placed over the 
pot when the powder was charged or discharged, and this was 
protected by a canvas screen. 

Fig. 1 8 shows on the left side a fixed musket barrel, from which a 
steel ball is shot through 1 7 wet elm boards shown on the right hand 
side of the illustration; these were J inch thick and -J inch apart, the 
musket barrel being 39 ft. 10 in. away. 




FIG. 19. CHARLES BERWICK CURTIS. 



39 

The King's powder usually shot through 15 or 16 boards. 

Further improvements in the manufacture of gunpowder were 
made by Colonel Sir William Congreve, who worked out many of the 
modern manufacturing details. 

Until an instrument was devised for measuring the comparative 
strength of different powders, no standard for the proportions of the 
ingredients and the size of the grain could be established. Bourne's 

o o 

" engine or little boxe " (1578), is believed to be the earliest instrument 
of this kind, but is described as ''wretched." It consisted of a small 
metal cylinder in which the powder was ignited, and was fitted with a 
heavy hinged lid held in position at the point to which it was raised 
by means of iron teeth. The angle through which the lid was raised 
by the explosion indicated the strength of the powder. In the instru- 
ment described by Furtenbach in " Halinitro Pyrbolia" in 1627, the lid 
of the cylinder is movable along two vertical wires, and is also kept 
in position after explosion by iron teeth. Nye, in 1647, recommended 
in addition measuring the penetration of pistol balls into clay, and the 
ranges of projectiles fired from a small mortar. By 1 686, the French 
had adopted the mortier cproiivette, and in 1697 Saint Remy invented 
his pistol fyrouvette, but it was not till 1742 that gunnery was placed 
upon a strictly scientific basis by the invention described in General 
H. Miiller's " Entwicklung der Feldartillerie " (Berlin, 1893), as " epoch- 
making" of the ballistic pendulum. This invention, which Benjamin 
Robins for the first time gave to the world in his "New Principles of 
Gunnery " made possible the measurement with considerable accuracy, 
of the muzzle- velocity of projectiles. 



RESEARCHES ON GUNPOWDER 
BY G. W. MACDONALD, M.Sc. 

A NDERSON (i) in 1674, and Halley (2) in 1686, supported 
-/A. Galileo's view that the air resistance to projectiles was practically 
negligible. Newton (3) in 1687, dissented from this view, and was 
in 1690, supported by Huygens. The first work in England on the 
velocity of projectiles, air resistance, and the force of gunpowder was 
carried out by Benjamin Robins (4). He was a noted mathematician, 
an authority on fortifications, and Engineer-General to the East India 
Company. He was born at Bath in 1707, and died in India in 1751, 
shortly after his arrival there, where he had gone to superintend the 
erection of fortifications which he had designed. His work was trans- 
lated into French and German, and was continually referred to as 
authoritative by subsequent writers. He mentions de la Hire as being, 
in 1702, the first worker on the subject. De la Hire supposed the 
force of gunpowder to be due to the increased elasticity of the air 
contained in and between the grains, in consequence of the heat and 
fire produced at the time of the explosion. Robins found that air was 
expanded by white-hot iron to about four times its original volume; 
that gunpowder, fired either in a vacuum or in air, produced by its 
explosion a permanent elastic fluid; that the volume of this elastic 
fluid was 244 times that of the original powder; and hence argued that 
at the exploding point the elasticity of the fluid produced from fired 
gunpowder, when contained in the space which was taken up by the 
powder before the explosion, was about 1,000 times greater than the 
elasticity of common air (the atmospheric pressure). He noticed that 
a cold barrel sensibly diminished the force of the powder in the first 

40 



RESEARCHES ON GUNPOWDER 41 

shot. He made comparative tests of various powders, and placed them 
in the following order of merit as regards force: Dutch, Portuguese, 
Spanish, English. He introduced what is now known as the Ballistic 
Pendulum for determining the velocity of the shot. Using a barrel 
45 inches long and 0^275 inch in diameter, a ball 0*25 inch in diameter, 
and a charge of powder of 36 dwts., he obtained a velocity of 2,400 feet 
per second. He showed that the resistance of air to projectiles 
was much beyond what was generally believed, and consequently that 
the track described by the flight of these projectiles was very different 
from what was usually supposed by writers on the subject. He found 
that the elasticity of the fluid produced by fired gunpowder was directly 
as its density. The experiment by which this was confirmed was by 
" letting fall separately two quantities of powder, the one double the 
other, on red-hot iron included in an exhausted receiver, and it appeared 
by the descent of the mercury that the elasticity of the fluid produced 
from double the quantity of powder was nearly double the elasticity of 
that produced from the single quantity." 

In discussing his results he assumed: (i) That the action of the 
powder on the bullet ceases as soon as the bullet is out of the piece. 
(2) That all the powder of the charge was fired and converted into an 
elastic fluid before the bullet was sensibly moved from its place. 

He concludes by stating that " the ascertaining of the force of 
powder and thence the velocity of bullets impelled by its explosion, 
and the assigning of a method of truly determining their actual velocities 
from experiments, are points from which every necessary principle in 
the formation and management of artillery may be easily deduced. 
Considering, further, the infinite importance of a well-ordered artillery 
to every state, the author flatters himself that whatever judgement may 
be formed of his success in these enquiries, he will not be denied the 
merit of having employed his industry on a subject which, though of a 
most scientific nature, and of the greatest consequence to the public, 
has been hitherto almost totally neglected." 

Charles Hutton (5), Professor of Mathematics at the Military 



42 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Academy, Woolwich, worked on the same subject in 1 778. He revised 
and edited Robins's " Principles of Gunnery" in 1805. Hutton used a 
ballistic pendulum consisting of a block of dry elm, a cube of 20 inches. 
The length from the middle of the axis to the ribband which measured 
the chord of the arc, was 102! inches. The gun was constructed of 
brass, with a muzzle diameter of 2.16 inches, and a breech diameter of 
2.08 inches. A cast-iron ball weighing 19 oz., or a lead ball of if Ib. 
was used, and sometimes a long or cylindrical shot of 3 Ib. weight. The 
length of the barrel was 42.6 inches. 

He fired charges of 2, 4, and 8 ounces of powder at a distance of 
29 to 30 feet from the pendulum, and obtained the following results : 

Charge of Gunpowder. 2 oz. 4 oz. 8 oz. 

Velocities ... 612* 879 1164 

do. 622 871 U54 

do. 605 870 1169 



Mean .... 613 873 1162 

From his experiments he concluded that the maximum pressure 
of gunpowder was about double that given by Robins, or a little more 
than 2,000 atmospheres (13 tons) per square inch. His conclusions 
were as follows : 

(1) " Powder fires almost instantaneously, seeing that nearly the 
whole of the charge fires, though the time be much diminished. 

(2) " The velocities communicated to shot of the same weight, 
with different quantities of powder, are nearly in the sub-duplicate 
ratio of those quantities. 

(3) "When shot of different weights are fired with the same 
quantity of powder, the velocities communicated to them are nearly in 
the reciprocal sub-duplicate ratio of their weights. 

(4) " So that, universally, shot which are of different weights and 
impelled by the firing of different quantities of powder, acquire velo- 
cities which are directly as the square roots of the quantities of powder, 
and inversely as the square roots of the weights of the shot, nearly. 



RESEARCHES ON GUNPOWDER 43 

(5) " It would therefore be a great, improvement in artillery to 
make use of shot of long form, or of heavier matter; for thus the 
momentum of a shot, when fired with the same weight of powder, 
would be increased in the ratio of the square root of the weight of 
the shot. 

(6) "It would also be an improvement to diminish the windage, 
for by so doing, one third or more of the quantity of powder might be 
saved. 

(7) "When the improvements mentioned in the last two articles 
are considered as both taking place, it is evident that about half the 
quantity of powder might be saved, which is a very considerable 
object. But, important as this saving may be, it seems to be still 
exceeded by that of the guns: for thus a small gun may be made to 
have the effect and execution of one or two or three times its size, in 
the present way, by discharging a long shot of two or three times the 
weight of its natural ball, or round shot: and thus a small ship might 
discharge shot as heavy as those of the greatest now made use of." 

In 1783 the "cylinder" charring of charcoal was suggested by 
Bishop Watson, and acted on by the Duke of Richmond, then Master 
General of Ordnance. In 1788 George Napier (6), Superintendent of 
the Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, presented to the Irish Academy of 
Science, through the Earl of Charlemont, a report on gunpowder. He 
considered Russian saltpetre to be the best for the manufacture of 
gunpowder, but did not think it advisable to make gunpowder with 
saltpetre refined oftener than four times, as it was probable that on 
repeated evaporation part of the elastic and expansive fluid contained 
in the nitre might be liberated. 

He tried various forms of charcoal with scarcely any perceptible 
difference in their effects, provided they were completely charred and 
equally well pulverized. Dogwood and alder were preferred by powder 
makers, but he had not been able to discover any cogent reason for 
this preference. He mentions the " cylinder " method for preparing 
charcoal. He dwells forcibly on the necessity for resublimation of 



44 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

sulphur, and states that it was found to be frequently adulterated with 
wheat flour. An analysis of some Chinese powder obtained from 
Canton is given as follows: Potassium nitrate, 75.7; charcoal, 15.1; 
sulphur, 9.2. 

In 1797 the classical experiments of Count Rumford (7) were 
communicated to the. Royal Society. He was previously known as 
Sir Benjamin Thompson. On being created a Count in 1792 by 
Kurfiirst Karl Theodor of Bavaria on account of his services rendered 
as a Bavarian general, he took his title from the town in America 
where he was born. He published several books, and although his 
experiments were made in Munich in 1792, they were communicated 
to the Royal Society. In prosecuting his remarkable experiments 
Rumford had two objects in view : 

(1) To ascertain the force exerted by explosive powder, when it 
completely filled the space in which it was exploded. 

(2) To determine the relation between the density of the gases 
and the tension. 

The apparatus used by Rumford consisted of a small wrought-iron 
vessel 0.25 inch (6.3 mm.) in diameter, and containing a volume of 
0.0897 cubic inch (1.47 c.c.). It was terminated at one end by a small 
closed vent filled with powder, so arranged that the charge could be 
fired by the application of a red-hot ball ; at the other end it was closed 
by a hemisphere upon which any required weight could be placed. 

When an experiment was to be made, a given charge was placed 
in the vessel, and a weight considered equivalent to the resulting 
gaseous pressure was applied to the hemisphere. If, on firing, the 
weight was lifted, it was gradually increased until it was just sufficient 
to confine the product of explosion, and the gaseous pressure was 
calculated from the weight found necessary. The powder experimented 
with was sporting of very fine grain; and as it contained only 67 per 
cent, of nitre it differed considerably from ordinary powder. Its 
gravi-metric density was 1.08; but in his experiments Rumford 
appears to have arranged so that the weight of a given volume of 



RESEARCHES ON GUNPOWDER 45 

gunpowder was nearly exactly equal to that of the same volume of 
water. The charges with which Rumford experimented were very 
small ; the largest, with one exception (by which his vessel was 
destroyed), was 18 grains (1.17 gramme). The total quantity of powder 
required to fill the vessel was about 28 grains (1.81 gramme). Rumford 
calculated that the tension of exploded gunpowder, such as that employed 
by him, when filling completely the space in which it is confined, is 
101,021 atmospheres (663 tons on the square inch). He accounts for 
this enormous pressure by ascribing it to the elasticity of the steam 
contained in the gunpowder, the tension of which he estimates as being 
doubled for every addition of temperature equal to 30 F. He further 
considered the combustion of powder in artillery and small arms to be 
comparatively slow, and hence he assumes that the initial tension is, in 
their case, not attained. 

In 1832 a book was published by John Braddock (8). He was a 
master refiner of saltpetre and Deputy Commissary of Ordnance. After 
working at Waltham Abbey he was sent to India by the Board of 
Ordnance in 1813, and remained there some twenty years. He deals 
in his book very fully and practically with all manufacturing operations, 
tests and proof as carried out in England and India. Until the appear- 
ance of Braddock's book there was no work in English which dealt in 
any adequate way with the subject. 

Scoffern (9), in 1859, traced in his book the history of gunpowder; 
his practical details are largely quoted from Braddock. He mentions 
that some varieties of gunpowder, especially those manufactured for the 
African market, are made to shine with black-lead ; " the negroes 
seemingly thinking that gunpowder which approaches their own com- 
plexions most is surely best." 

Airy (10), the Astronomer Royal, in 1863 published work on the 
comparative destructive effect of steam in boiler explosions, and the 
destructive energy of gunpowder. 

Gale, in 1865, invented anon-explosive gunpowder. It consisted 
of gunpowder mixed with from three to four times its weight of 



46 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

powdered glass. This protected powder could not be exploded in any 
way, and on removal of the powdered glass, by a sieve, it was ready for 
use again. Gale's invention, at the time, created an extraordinarily 
widespread interest, not only in official quarters, where many experi- 
ments were made, but also throughout the entire press of the country, 
and on the continent. 

Noble (n) in 1871 published the first of his researches on the 
tension of fired gunpowder. His further classical work, carried out 
partly in conjunction with Abel (12), is so well known and so extensive, 
that any attempt at a summary in a short space, is not only unnecessary, 
but impossible. 

In 1882 Debus (13), in the Bakerian lecture at the Royal Society 
dealt with the chemical theory of gunpowder, and criticized some of 
the work and conclusions of Noble and Abel. 

(1) "Genuine Use and Effects of the Gunne " (1674). 

(2) Phil. Trans. (1686), No. 179, 19. 

(3) Principia, lib. ii, 7 (1687). 

(4) " Principles of Gunnery " (1742). 
Trans. Roy. Soc. (1743), 437. 

(5) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1778), 50. 

(6) Trans. I risk A cad. (1788). 

(7) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1797), 222. 

(8) " Memoir on Gunpowder" (1832). 

(9) " Projectile Weapons of War and Explosive Compounds " 

(1859)- 

(10) Phil. Mag. (1863), 329. 
(i i) Proc. Roy. Inst. (1871), 282. 

(12) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1875), 49 (1880), 203. 
Proc. Inst. C.E. (1884). 

Trans. Roy. Soc. (1892), (1894). 

"Artillery and Explosives" (John Murray, London, 1906). 

(13) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1882), 523-594. 



NITROCELLULOSE 

BY G. W. MACDONALD, M.Sc. 
\ / 

SINCE Schonbein's discovery in 1846, Great Britain has contributed 
largely, not only to the chemistry of nitrocellulose, but also to 
improvements in manufacturing processes. Schonbein, in March of 
1846, sent samples of guncotton to Faraday, Herschel, and Grove, and 
the latest, at the British Association at Southampton in that year, 
exhibited samples of Schonbein's guncotton, and gave demonstrations 
of some of its properties. Schonbein came to England in August, and, 
through Herschel's help, he succeeded in having the first experiments 
carried out at Woolwich Arsenal on 25th August, in conjunction with 
Colonel Sabine, R. E. These were so satisfactory that, at Colonel 
Sabine's request, a commission of officers was appointed to witness 
further trials at Woolwich and Portsmouth. Schonbein was invited to 
carry out experiments with his guncotton before the Queen and the 
Prince Consort. The first pair of partridges shot with the new powder 
were sent to the Prince Consort. The Government paid ^1,500 for 
carrying out experiments, which were begun on gth October, in the 
presence of Schonbein and many personages of importance, with great 
success. These experiments aroused great interest among miners and 
powder-makers. He also carried out, in conjunction with Richard 
Taylor, before the members of the Royal Geographical Society of 
Cornwall, demonstrations of the value of his discovery for mining 
purposes. The first trial was made in a granite quarry at Spargo near 
Penrhyn. It is stated that the surprise and incredulity of the miners 
was very great, and when Taylor charged a hole with guncotton they 
thought that he was doing a very absurd thing, one of them offering 
to sit on the hole for a pint of beer. Two holes were charged, the one 
with the ordinary amount of gunpowder, and the other with a quarter 

47 



48 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

the weight of guncotton. In the latter case the rock was torn into 
fragments. It did more work than was required, the charge being too 
great. Schonbein took out a patent (i) in 1846, not in his own name, 
but in that of his friend, John Taylor. He states that the vegetable 
matter which is best suited for the purposes of the invention is cotton, 
cleaned from any extraneous matter, as it is desirable to operate only 
on the clean cotton fibre, which should be dry. The acids employed 
were 3 parts sulphuric acid (1.85) and i part nitric acid (1.45 to 1.5). 
The cotton was to be immersed in the mixed acid, so as to become 
thoroughly impregnated therewith. In this same year he also entered 
into negotiations with Messrs. John Hall and Sons, of Faversham, and 
on the 1 3th of October an agreement was made for the erection of a 
factory for the manufacture of guncotton. 

Teschemacher's (2) work in 1846 is worthy of notice, because he 
showed from his experiments that it is nitric acid, alone, which in the 
mixed acids enters into the reaction in the guncotton formation. 
He immersed South American cotton in a mixture of equal parts of 
strong nitric and sulphuric acids, and the increase of weight of the cotton 
waste on conversion into guncotton was determined. On removing 
the excess of acid and washing out the adherent acid, he showed, by 
precipitation as barium sulphate, that the whole of the sulphuric acid 
originally used was recovered, and that the increase of weight of the 
cotton-waste corresponded to the loss of nitric acid. The real object of 
his work was, he states, to ascertain how far Schonbein's discovery 
would be likely to affect an important branch of trade the production 
and value of saltpetre and sodium nitrate. He came to the conclusion 
that, considering the original cost of the cotton, the expensive mani- 
pulation of the conversion of the nitrate into nitric acid, and the 
additional weight of nitrate required to produce the same weight of 
guncotton, that the latter substance must be more expensive than 
gunpowder, taking weight for weight. Ransome (3), in 1846, prepared 
and analysed guncotton. He used carded cotton, and immersed it in a 
mixture of 2 volumes of nitric acid and i volume of sulphuric acid. 




FIG. 20. CHRISTIAN FREDERICK SCHONBEIN. 



NITROCELLULOSE 51 

The ratio in weight of cotton to acid was as i to 19. The increase 
of weight was found to be i to 1.64. By investigating the ratio of 
nitrogen to carbon dioxide on combustion with copper oxide he found 
his product contained 10.33 per cent, of nitrogen. Bowman (4), 
in 1846, first drew attention to the property possessed by guncotton 
of becoming electrified. He was struck, whilst employing it for some 
physical experiments, by the tenacity with which it adhered to his 
fingers ; and further, that when drying some guncotton yarn and drawing 
it out, a crackling noise was heard, and on applying it to a goldleaf 
electroscope a strong diversion of the leaves was instantly caused. 

The work of Crum (5), in 1847, 1S f ver Y great interest, not only 
on account of his thorough chemical investigation of guncotton, but 
also because he devised and standardized the method which is now in 
universal use, for the estimation of nitrates, nitric acid, and guncotton 
the nitrometer. He used a graduated glass tube, 8 inches long and 
i^ inch wide, filled with, and inverted over, mercury. Fused potassium 
nitrate was used for standardizing the method. Ten grains of the 
nitrate were introduced into the tube, and afterwards 50 grains of 
water. As soon as it was dissolved, sulphuric acid (125 grains), ascer- 
tained to be free from nitric acid, was added. At the end of two hours, 
after occasional agitation, no further evolution of gas was obtained, and 
the volume of gas was measured and corrected. Crum proved that the 
gas obtained consisted wholly of nitric oxide, by introducing into the 
tube a boiled solution of ferrous sulphate, which completely absorbed 
the whole of the gas. The mean of his results for potassium nitrate 
was 13.85 per cent, of nitrogen, the theoretical being 13.86 percent. 
With commendable foresight, before proceeding to the analysis of 
guncotton, he showed that the presence of cotton, in admixture with 
nitrate, did not interfere appreciably with the liberation of nitric oxide. 
The result obtained under these conditions was 13.80 per cent, of 
nitrogen. For the preparation of his guncotton he used Sea Island 
cotton-waste, which had been boiled in caustic soda, and treated with 
dilute nitric acid. The ash in the sample so prepared was only 0.09 



52 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

per cent. For nitration he used a mixture of i part of sulphuric acid 
(1.84) and 3 parts of nitric acid (1.517). The ratio of cotton to acid 
was i to 86. The yield obtained was 1.779, and when his product was 
dissolved in nitric acid, and tested with barium chloride, it gave no 
evidence of the presence of sulphuric acid. He analysed his compound 
by combustion, and the figures which he obtained are of such interest 
that they deserve to be quoted. The following gives the results: 

For cellulose trinitrate. Calculated. Obtained by Crum. 

Carbon 24.24 . . . . 24.92 

Hydrogen .... 2.36 . . ... 2.49 

Nitrogen 14.14 .... 13.69 (by nitrometer) 

Oxygen 59.26 . . . ". 58.90 

In his own words he concluded that guncotton was lignin in which 
3 atoms of water were replaced by 3 atoms of nitric acid. The work 
of Gladstone (6) in the same year stands on the same level as that of 
Crum, with regard to thoroughness. He investigated the action of 
various solvents on his product, and states that it was found to be 
practically insoluble in strong alcohol, and also in ether, and even in a 
mixture of 10 parts of ether and i part of alcohol. Acetic ether, 
however, instantly destroyed the fibre, and dissolved it in large 
quantities, the solution yielding, on spontaneous evaporation, a white 
powder of the same weight as the original guncotton. By analysis he 
showed that his product contained 12.75 per cent, of nitrogen. In this 
year also, Messrs. John Hall and Sons of Faversham had erected their 
factory for the manufacture of guncotton, but a very disastrous explosion 
on the i4th July, 1847, destroyed the factory, which was never rebuilt. 
This disaster appeared to have acted as a deterrent, in England, of 
any further work on guncotton, for the next sixteen years. Meanwhile 
Austria had persevered in the manufacture through the initiative of 
von Lenk. Hoffmann (7), in 1861, investigated the products of the 
spontaneous decomposition of guncotton, prepared at Messrs. Hall's 
works at Faversham in 1847, and subsequently kept by Percy in glass- 




FIG. 21. GENERAL WILHELM FREIHERR LENK VON WOLFSBERG. 



NITROCELLULOSE 55 

stoppered bottles. Red vapours had appeared in the bottle. The 
guncotton had crumbled to a light brown semi-fluid gum-like mass, 
whilst the sides of the bottle were coated with a network of fine crystals, 
which were proved to be oxalic acid. Von Lenk, in 1862, took out a 
patent, not in his own name but in that of Revy (8), for the manufacture 
of guncotton, in which he mentions the use of sodium silicate solution 
for purification, and states, that guncotton treated in this way is entirely 
free from self-combustion. Again, in 1863, von Lenk, in the name of 
Revy (9), claimed in a patent the purification of cotton waste by wash- 
ing with alkali, and a process for steeping the cotton in mixed acids 
contained in a specially arranged apparatus. Divers (10), in 1863, on 
investigating the products of the spontaneous decomposition of some 
cellulose nitrate which he had prepared, found that pectic and para- 
pectic acids were present, but did not obtain the slightest evidence of the 
presence of oxalic acid. The influence of Schonbein's experiments in the 
Cornish mines can perhaps be traced in the fact that in 1862 Tonkin 
(i i), in Cornwall, claimed the use of pulped guncotton as an ingredient 
in explosives. His description of the preparation of guncotton is taken 
verbatim from Schonbein's original patent quoted above. The following 
passage is, however, significant: "The fibre is then taken in the wet 
state and converted into pulp in the same manner as is practised by 
paper-makers, by putting the fibre into a cylinder having knives 
revolving rapidly, working close to fixed knives." In 1863 a Committee 
of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (12), com- 
posed of some ten of the best-known scientists of the day, reported on 
the question of guncotton. The Committee was put in possession of 
the fullest information on the subject, mainly from two sources: (i) A 
report by Abel, by permission of the Secretary of State for War, 
containing information given by the Austrian Government to the 
English Government, of the method of manufacture in the Austrian 
factory, (ii) Von Lenk, on the invitation of the Committee, and by 
permission of the Emperor of Austria, paid a visit to England, with 
the object of answering any enquiries the Committee might make, and 



56 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

explaining his system of manufacture thoroughly; and for this purpose 
he brought over drawings and samples from the Imperial factory. In 
the same year, Messrs. Prentice and Co., of Stowmarket (now the New 
Explosives Co., Ltd.), commenced the manufacture of guncotton, 
according to Von Lenk's system, but a serious accident occurred not 
long after starting manufacture. Abel also, about the same time, began 
the manufacture, on a small scale, at Waltham Abbey, and communi- 
cated to the Committee the results of his experiments. Abel (13), in 
1864, communicated to the Royal Society the first of his papers on the 
chemistry of guncotton. In 1865 he took out a patent (14) for the 
simultaneous pulping and compressing of guncotton into blocks. This 
pulping process is now in universal use, for by its means the acids and 
acid products can be easily and completely eliminated from the fibre. 
In this year the Stowmarket factory was rebuilt and enlarged, and 
recommenced the manufacture of guncotton, introducing Abel's im- 
provements. In 1866 Abel (15) communicated to the Royal Society 
the first of his classical papers entitled " Researches on Guncotton." 
The second memoir (16) was published in 1867, and these two com- 
munications contain an enormous amount of experimental work, and 
many far-reaching conclusions based upon the results obtained. It is 
impossible, in a short space, to attempt to summarize this work. 
Mention, however, should be made of the fact that it was found 
necessary to introduce a test of a chemical nature in order to ascertain 
whether or not the finished guncotton had been thoroughly purified in 
manufacture. This " heat test," as it was called, invented and perfected 
by the late Dr. Dupre, Chemical Adviser to the Home Office, is in 
universal use to-day; it is a test for the purity of guncotton, nitro- 
glycerine, and freshly-made explosives, and the Home Office has, so 
far, found nothing to supersede it. Again, in 1869, Abel (17) once more 
published researches on guncotton, in which he drew attention to the 
importance of the discovery made by his assistant, Brown, that guncotton 
could be readily detonated when in the wet, compressed state. On 
f4th August, 1871, a disastrous explosion took place at the Stowmarket 




FIG. 22. EUSTACE PRENTICE. 
(From a photograph by the London Stereoscopic Co.) 



NITROCELLULOSE 59 

Factory, when nearly fifteen tons of finished guncotton, stored in the 
factory magazine, exploded spontaneously. At the inquiry, which 
lasted seven days, the Home Office were advised by Dupre and 
Keates; Abel gave evidence on behalf of the War Office, and Odling 
appeared for the Company. An exhaustive report on this explosion 
was made by Majendie (18). In 1872 manufacture was begun at 
Waltham Abbey on a scale sufficiently large to turn out 250 tons per 
annum. The British Government gave the German Government an 
opportunity of inspecting the guncotton works at Waltham Abbey, and 
supplied them with plans for the erection of a similar factory, which is 
still in existence in Kruppamuhle in Upper Silesia. With the introduc- 
tion of the Explosives Act of 1875, a new era in explosives work com- 
menced, and from this time forward, much of interest may be found in 
the communications of Dupre (19) contained in the Annual Reports of 
the Inspectors of Explosives, and also in the special reports upon 
accidents and explosions in the various factories. Dupre also laid down 
the specific conditions for carrying out the heat tests for guncotton and 
other explosives, and introduced later, though not officially, what is 
known as the " vapour tension " test. With the exception of his work, 
practically nothing was published in Great Britain or elsewhere during 
some twenty years. 

In 1895 Guttmann (20) published his work on explosives, which 
covered, with the then state of knowledge, the whole field. In 1897 
Guttmann (21) reviewed and criticized the heat test, showing how 
it can be masked, and proposed the introduction of the diphenyl- 
amine test. Luck and Cross (22) made an investigation of the 
effect of dilute acetone in stabilizing and disintegrating nitrocellulose. 
Cross, Bevan, and Jenks (23) published work on the production of 
mixed esters in the preparation of nitrocellulose. The heat test was 
again the subject of review and criticism by Cullen (24) in 1901. An 
investigation of the Will test was published in 1902 by Robertson (25) 
who gave an account of the results of the application of this test to the 
British Service guncotton, during the stages of purification, and in the 



6o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

finished condition. A modification in the manufacture of oruncotton 

o 

was patented in 1903 by the Messrs. Thomson (26) of Waltham Abbey, 
known as the displacement process, which dispensed with the use of 
acid and water wringers, greatly reduced the number of workpeople 
required for the nitration of guncotton, and also reduced the loss of 
nitric and sulphuric acids, carried away in the wash water, for all 
practical purposes, almost to a minimum. The difficult subject of the 
microscopy of nitrocellulose has been very ably and fully dealt with by 
H. de Mosenthal (27) in two communications. Hake and Lewis (28) 
in 1905, published work on the production of mixed esters in the 
nitration of cellulose, and pointed to the fact that the presence of 
cellulose sulphuric ester might be a possible cause of the deterioration 
of nitrocellulose. Silberrad and Farmer (29) made an examination of 
the decomposition products of gelatinized nitrocellulose, at an elevated 
temperature, in a moist atmosphere. They also investigated the ques- 
tion of the hydrolysis of nitrocellulose and the deterioration of nitro- 
cellulose powders on storage. In 1906 Robertson (30) published 
work on the effect of acid hydrolysis in the purification of guncotton. 
This work is of far-reaching importance in reducing the time that is 
required for stabilizing guncotton, by boiling with water, and producing 
an ultimate product of high stability. Robertson and Napper (31) in 
1907 made an interesting investigation of the composition of the gases 
produced, on the decomposition of guncotton, as regards the percentage 
of nitrogen peroxide present. They showed that when guncotton is heated 
in vacuo at 135 C, some 25 per cent, of the nitrogen contained in the 
gaseous products of decomposition exists as nitrogen peroxide; whilst 
in the Will test upwards of 40 per cent, was found to be present in the 
same condition. Guttmann (32) in his lecture in 1908 before the 
Society of Arts, showed the progress made during the last twenty 
years, and criticized various theories and manufacturing details, whilst 
Nathan (33) in 1909 gave a review of the present position of the 
manufacture of guncotton. 

In 1864 Schultze (34) introduced his sporting powder made from 




FIG. 23. SIR FREDERICK ABEL, K.C.B., F.R.S. 



NITROCELLULOSE 63 

nitrated wood, and Griffiths patented improvements on it in 1877 (35) 
and 1884(36). 

In 1865 (37) Abel patented the production of grains of guncotton. 
He introduced guncotton pulp and a small quantity of binding material 
into a vessel, to which a vibrating motion was imparted, whereby the 
pulp was formed into grains. In place of water, other fluids such as 
wood spirit, spirits of wine, ether, or a mixture of these liquids, with or 
without some binding material, siich as shellac, gums, or resins could 
be used. Mention is also made of the use of collodion, in the form of 
a solution, to bind the insoluble guncotton and coat the grains. 

In 1866 Kellner (38) is also stated to have made a granular 
smokeless powder. 

In 1882 Reid (39) patented the agglomeration of nitro-cotton into 
grains, moistening them with ether alcohol for the purpose of harden- 
ing the grains now known as " E.G." powder. Further improvements 
to this powder consisting of the use of emulsions of solvents and moder- 
ants were patented by Borland (40) in 1900. 

In 1891 Curtis and Andre (41) patented a sporting powder, since 
known as " amberite," though the nitroglycerine stated to be used in 
the original specification is no longer retained. 

A number of smokeless powders, known as Rifleite, S.S. powder, 
etc., were made under F. W. Jones's patents (42) by the Smokeless 
Powder Co., at Ware in Hertfordshire, but an action for infringement of 
Engel's patent (43) having been brought and won by Heidemann, the 
factory was taken over by the Schultze Gunpowder Co. 

Luck and Cross in 1898 (44) patented the hardening of powder by 
treatment with a diluted solvent, and Cocking and Kynoch, Ltd., 
proposed (45) the addition of olive oil and of alkali salts. 

(1) Brit. Pat., 11407, 8th October (1846). 

(2) Mem. Chem. Soc. (1846), 253. 

(3) Lit. Phil. Soc., Manchester (1846). 

(4) Phil. Mag. (1846), 500. 



64 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

(5) Proc. Phil. Soc., Glasgow (1847), '63. 

(6) Mem. Chem. Soc. (1847), 412. 
(7)/. Chem. Soc. (1861), 76. 

(8) Brit. Pat. (1862), 1090. 

(9) Brit. Pat. (1863), 2720. 
(10) J. Chem. Soc. (1863), 91-94. 

(n) Brit. Pat., 320, 6th February (1862). 

(12) Reports B.A.A.S. (1863). 

(13) Proc. Roy. Soc. (1864), 213. 

(14) Brit. Pat., 1 102, 2oth April (1865). 

(15) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1866), 269-308. 

(16) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1867), 181-253. 

(17) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1869), 489-516. 

(18) Report on Explosion of Guncotton at Stowmarket on i4th 

August, 1871. 

(19) Ann. Reports of H.M. Inspectors of Explosives (1875-1907). 

Special Reports H. M. Inspectors of Explosives. 

(20) The Manufacture of Explosives, 2 vols. (1895), Whittaker 

and Co. 
(2i)J.S.C.I. (1897), 283-93- 

(22) J.S.C.I. (1901), 642-44. 

(23) Ber. (1901), 2496. 

(24) J.S.C.I. (1902), 8-13. 
(2^} J.S.C.I. (1902), 819-25. 

(26) Brit. Pat. (1903), 8278. 

(27) J.S.C.I. (1904), 292. Ibid., 1907, 443-5- 
(^J.S.C.I. (1905), 374-Si. 

(29) Trans. Chem. Soc. (1906), 1182-86, and 1759-1773. J.S.C.I. 

(1906), 961-72. 
(^ J. S.C.I. (1906), 624-26. 

(31) Trans. Chem. Soc. (1905), 761-86. 

(32) J. Soc. Arts (1908) and Manufacture of Explosives (1909), 

Whittaker and Co. 



NITROCELLULOSE 65 

(33) J.S.C.I. (1909), 1/7-87- 

(34) Brit. Pat. (1864), 900. 

(35) Brit. Pat. (1877), 3294. 

(36) Brit. Pat. (1884), 11808. 

(37) Brit. Pat. (1865), 1102. 

(38) Buch der Erfindungen, Leipsic (1866). 

(39) Brit. Pat. (1882), 619. 

(40) Brit. Pat. (1900), 4593. 

(41) Brit. Pat. (1891), 11383, 19068. 

(42) Brit. Pat. (1897), 1154, (1898), 15553 and (1901), 18161. 

(43) Brit. Pat. (1887), 6022. 

(44) Brit. Pat. (1898), 18233. 

(45) Brit. Pat. (1905), 15565 and 15566. 



NITRO-GLYCERINE AND NITRO-GLYCERINE 
EXPLOSIVES 

BY HENRY DE MOSENTHAL, F.I.C., F.C.S. 

NITRO-GLYCERINE was invented by Sobrero in 1846, but 
remained a scientific curiosity for many years until Alfred Nobel 
and his father devoted themselves to its study from 1859 to 1861. In 
the latter year Alfred Nobel erected works at Heleneborg near Stock- 
holm, and there nitro-glycerine was manufactured on a commercial 
scale in 1862. 

The manufactured article was conveyed in tin-plate canisters. 
The method adopted in blasting was to pour a quantity of nitro- 
glycerine into a bore-hole. The primer used by Nobel to fire the 
nitro-glycerine was at first a black powder cartridge. Later, he 
employed a glass tube filled with gunpowder, and this he subsequently 
replaced by a cone-shaped receptacle made of tin plate . filled with 
fulminate of mercury. This was known as Nobel's igniter. 

In 1864 an explosion, in which the head chemist and Nobel's 
youngest brother lost their lives, destroyed the Heleneborg works. 
Nobel nevertheless continued his manufacture, and resumed operations 
on a barge in Lake Malaren, pending the erection by him of a new 
factory at Winte.rvijken, near Stockholm. This was completed in 
1865, in which year he also built explosives works at Krtimmel on 
the Elbe. 

At Kriimmel the manufactured nitro-glycerine, which was also 
called pyro-glycerine, glonoine oil, or Nobel's Blasting Oil, was 
encased in tin canisters, which were packed in wooden cases. 

In consequence of the large number of accidents which occurred 

66 




[Copyright. Costa Flonnan, Stockholm, 
FIG. 24. ALFRED NOBEL. 



NITROGLYCERINE 69 

in the transport of nitro-glycerine in this liquid state, a scare was 
created which led to prohibitive or practically prohibitive legislation in 
various countries, Acts regulating its manufacture and use being 
passed in Great Britain in 1866 and 1869. 

In those days nitro-glycerine was not manufactured in Great 
Britain, but Nobel appointed an agent in London and sent him samples 
to try to introduce it, with unsatisfactory results. 

There can be little doubt that nitro-glycerine would have ceased 
to be used as a practical explosive had not Nobel in 1864 conceived 
the idea of absorbing it in Kieselguhr, thus converting it into a dough 
which could be cartridged and handled safely. This explosive, which 
he called Dynamite, was manufactured at Wintervijken and at Krum- 
mel, and new works for its production were also built at Lysaker, near 
Christiania, in Norway. 

In 1867 Nobel improved his firing method by embedding in the 
dynamite cartridge a copper fulminating cap or detonator, a method of 
initial ignition which distinguishes high explosives from those of the 
black powder class. Thanks to this mode of ignition dynamite was 
converted into a useful and convenient explosive. 

There is no exaggeration in saying that the great extension of 
mining operations and the construction of public works, more par- 
ticularly of tunnels in recent years, could not have been possible of 
execution but for the invention of dynamite. Nobel placed in the 
hands of mankind an agent which has played a prominent part in the 
advancement of modern civilization. 

In 1867 Nobel went to America where explosives works were 
erected in the vicinity of San Francisco. Passing through London on 
his way to America he tried to dispose of his British patent rights, and 
offered them to several of the leading black powder makers, more 
particularly to Messrs. John Hall and Sons, with whom he opened 
negotiations for the sale of his patents for ^500. They ultimately, 
however, declined the offer, showing as they did with the other powder 
makers a general disbelief in the value of the invention. 



70 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

In 1868 works were erected at Zamky, near Prague, in Bohemia, 
and in 1870 at Hango in Finland, but it was not uutil 1871 that 
Nobel, finding financial support in Glasgow, formed the British 
Dynamite Company, Limited, which was afterwards reconstructed 
under the name of Nobel's Explosives Company, Limited, of Glasgow. 
He selected a site between Irvine and Ardrossan, at Ardeer, in Ayr- 
shire, and there erected small works for the manufacture of his 
explosive. The method of manufacturing which he introduced into 
that factory was that elaborated by him with the assistance of his 
friend Liedbeck, a method which was followed there, with minor 
alterations only, until 1902. A complete description of this method 
can be found in the evidence given by Mr. Downie, the manager and 
secretary of the British Dynamite Company, before the Select Com- 
mittee appointed at the instance of the Inspector of Gunpowder, 
Captain Vivian Majendie, in 1874, under the chairmanship of Admiral 
Sir John Hay, to inquire into the law relating to the making, keeping, 
carriage, and importation of gunpowder, nitro-glycerine, ammunition, 
fireworks, and substances of an explosive nature. It was the report of 
this Committee which led to the introduction of the Explosives Act of 
1875. In his evidence before it Nobel stated that he had thirteen 
factories and was building two more, while there were eight or nine 
additional factories in existence, in which he had no share. Among 
these factories not owned by the Nobel companies was that of the firm 
of Krebs and Company, near Cologne, erected as early as 1868. An 
explosive was made there under the name of Lithofracteur, which 
consisted of fifty-five parts of nitro-glycerine and forty-five parts of a 
dope consisting of one part by weight of charcoal, bran, or sawdust, 
3^ parts by weight of Kieselguhr, and 2^ barium nitrate or bi- 
carbonate of soda with half a part of magnesium sulphate. This 
explosive was imported into the United Kingdom in 1871 and the 
years following, but in 1878 the courts of this country declared it to 
be a colourable imitation of dynamite. This was the only instance of 
an attempt to evade the patent in this country, so that from 1871 to 



NITRO-GLYCERINE 71 

1878 the Ardeer factory alone manufactured dynamite, and Nobel's 
Explosives Company held the monopoly. 

In 1875 Nobel invented an explosive which he called Blasting 
Gelatine. He had tried to dissolve guncotton in nitro-glycerine as 
early as 1867, but abandoned the idea until one day he discovered that 
by pouring collodion into nitro-glycerine a jelly could be formed. At 
first the assisting solvent used in the manufacture of blasting gelatine 
was ether-alcohol; later, however, Nobel's factories on the continent, 
and more particularly the Pressburg factory in Hungary, which had 
been erected in 1873, ascertained that a certain class of nitro-cotton 
could be incorporated with nitro-glycerine by warming and kneading 
without the aid of a solvent. 

It is a curious coincidence contributive to the success of this 
explosive that the amount of nitrocellulose required to convert nitro- 
glycerine into a stiff jelly is from 7 per cent, to 8 per cent., which is the 
exact proportion which furnishes the excess of carbon necessary to 
convert the excess of oxygen of the nitro-glycerine into carbon di-oxide. 
Blasting gelatine is therefore a perfect explosive, inasmuch as the 
constituent elements are present in the correct percentage to be entirely 
converted into carbon di-oxide, nitrogen and water, exercising thus the 
greatest amount of power without any deleterious fumes. 

Nobel, in accordance with the agreement by which, in addition to 
transferring his dynamite patents to the British Dynamite Company, he 
was also bound to give them the benefit of any improvements, trans- 
ferred his patents for blasting gelatine to Nobel's Explosives Company, 
the successors of that company. 

Blasting gelatine, however, proved too powerful for certain works, 
and potassium nitrate and wood meal were added in different propor- 
tions to a nitro-glycerine which was only thickened with nitrocellulose 
to the consistency of a thin jelly. Two of these modifications of gelatine 
explosives were introduced in this country; one, with 80 per cent, of 
thickened nitro-glycerine, was called gelatine dynamite, a name first 
given to it by the continental factory, and another containing 60 per 



72 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

cent, of thickened nitroglycerine, for which Nobel's Explosives Com- 
pany devised the name of gelignite. 

Blasting gelatine and the other gelatinous compounds made very 
slow headway in Great Britain, for they were seriously hampered by 
the stringency of the Home Office regulations. A small committee, 
consisting of Sir Frederick Abel, Dr. Dupre, and Professor Odling 
was appointed to determine the test with which these new explosives 
had to comply, and this test was modified on various occasions until, in 
1884, it reached its definite form. Thus blasting gelatine, the manu- 
facture of which developed rapidly on the Continent, was still being 
imported into this country by Nobels as late as 1878. Its manufacture 
was, however, started at Ardeer in 1879, but was interrupted from 
1882 to 1884 on account of the difficulties of complying with the 
physical test. The work done at Ardeer in connection with this 
manufacture was very considerable, and there can be little doubt that 
whilst the prescribed test hampered the factory, it led to considerable 
improvements in the preparation of the explosive. 

In this country the manufacture of nitro-glycerine and nitro- 
glycerine explosives between the years 1871 and 1881 was confined 
to the Ardeer factory. In the latter year the Explosives Company 
(afterwards the New Explosives Company, Limited) erected works at 
Pembrey in South Wales with the assistance of Mr. Walter F. Reid, 
and there nitro-glycerine was manufactured according to the Boutmy- 
Faucher process. The manufacture on this method was visited by a 
serious explosion in 1882, in consequence of which the factory was 
closed. In 1888 the National Explosives Company, Limited, was 
formed, and works were erected at Hayle in Cornwall by Mr. Oscar 
Guttmann. He introduced there the continental method of making 
nitro-glycerine, which differs from that followed at Ardeer by separating 
the nitro-glycerine from the acids in a closed vessel and drawing off 
the acids from below, instead of separating in an open vessel and 
skimming the nitro-glycerine from above. He also introduced the use of 
Werner and Pfleiderer kneading machines for making blasting gelatine. 



NITRO-GLYCERINE 73 

After the lapse of the dynamite patent in 1878, the continental 
factories exported dynamite into this country. In 1884, by an arrange- 
ment with Nobel's Explosives Company, some of the continental 
companies also exported blasting gelatine, gelatine dynamite, and 
gelignite to this country. In 1889 the blasting gelatine patent lapsed, 
and blasting gelatine was made at Hayle and also at Perranporth in 
Cornwall, where a factory was erected by Mr. Percy F. Nursey and 
Mr. Walter F. Reid for a company formed under the style of the 
British and Colonial Explosives Company, Limited. In 1893 the 
British Explosives Syndicate was formed in Glasgow, and erected 
works for the manufacture of dynamite and gelatine explosives at 
Pitsea in Essex under the superintendence of Mr. McRoberts. In the 
same year the manufacture of nitro-glycerine blasting explosives was 
started at the works of the Cotton Powder Company at Faversham, 
where, up to then, cotton powder or tonite had been made. 

In 1887 Alfred Nobel, guided no doubt by the study of celluloid, 
found that by greatly increasing the percentage of nitrocellulose in 
blasting gelatine he could produce an explosive which could serve, as a 
propulsive agent. He suggested incorporation by kneading and with 
the assistance of heat of from 33 to 66 per cent, of nitro-glycerine, the 
balance being soluble nitrocellulose of the same kind as that used in 
the manufacture of blasting gelatine with the addition of camphor, and 
he called this new powder ballistite. The various Nobel factories 
developed this explosive, prominently among them the factory at 
Ardeer, where it was first produced in 1889, Messrs. Lundholm and 
Sayers advancing the manufacture considerably by a new method of 
incorporation of nitro-glycerine and nitrocellulose with the assistance 
of water. Nobel submitted his invention to the Explosives Committee, 
which had been appointed by the British War Office to recommend 
the best powder to be used by the Service, and was composed of 
three chemists, Sir Frederick Abel, Mr. (now Sir) James Dewar, 
and Dr. Dupre. They modified Nobel's invention by substituting 
service guncotton for the soluble nitrocellulose, using acetone as an 



74 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

assistant solvent to bring about the incorporation. They fixed upon 
58 per cent, of nitro-glycerine, 37 per cent, of guncotton, with the 
addition of 5 per cent, of mineral jelly. The paste thus produced was 
squirted through a die to form cords. This explosive, under the name 
of cordite, was adopted as the British service powder. Later on the 
percentages were reversed, and cordite, known as Modified Cordite or 
MD, was adopted, with 30 per cent, nitro-glycerine and 65 per cent, 
guncotton and 5 per cent, mineral jelly incorporated by means of 
acetone. This is the ordinary British service powder of to-day, whilst 
the first powder is still retained for small arms. A patent suit brought 
by Nobel's Explosives Company against the Government in 1894 
was unsuccessful, the Courts holding that Nobel's patent did not 
cover the use of insoluble nitrocellulose, but that he had limited 
himself to the use of soluble nitrocellulose. Mr. (now Sir) Hiram 
Maxim, who in 1889 had patented a smokeless powder consisting of 
guncotton, nitro-glycerine, and castor oil, incorporated by using acetone 
as an assisting solvent, also unsuccessfully contended that the Govern- 
ment cordite was an infringement of his invention. The manufacture 
of ballistite in this country was restricted to the production of a 
sporting powder known as Nobel's Sporting Ballistite, which is the 
only nitro-glycerine sporting powder at present in the market. 

The introduction of cordite as a service explosive in 1 893 brought 
about a great development in the nitro-glycerine production in this 
country. The Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey erected 
for the production of this powder a nitro-glycerine plant, which has 
been developed there under the direction of Colonel Sir Frederic 
Nathan, R.A., who quite recently described the evolution and present 
method of manufacture in a paper read before the Society of Chemical 
Industry. Further particulars as to this can be found in the " Treatise 
on Service Explosives" issued from time to time by H.M. Govern- 
ment. The factories at Ardeer and Hayle took up the manufacture of 
cordite, and so did a little later the factories at Faversham and Pitsea. 
But in addition to these existing factories a number of gunpowder and 



NITRO-GLYCERINE 75 

guncotton makers were led to manufacture cordite, and as was to be 
expected they also manufactured in connection therewith nitro-glycerine 
blasting explosives. Thus Messrs. Kynoch erected works at Arklow 
in 1895, an d in 1897 at Thames Haven in Essex. In 1898 the Stow- 
market factory, belonging to the New Explosives Company, which had 
confined itself to the manufacture of guncotton, took up the manufacture 
of nitro-glycerine blasting explosives, and cordite, and so did Messrs. 
Curtis's and Harvey in 1901 at their works at Cliffe in Kent. From 
time to time a number of companies were formed for the manufacture 
of nitro-glycerine explosives, such as the Carbo-Dynamite Company, 
the Welsh Explosives Company, the International Explosives Com- 
pany, the Gelatines Company, the Dynamite Company, and the Essex 
Explosives, Limited, but only one factory was actually erected, and 
that in 1898 by the High Explosives Company at Bramble Island in 
Essex. This factory was afterwards taken over by the Standard 
Explosives Company, and at the present day is worked by the 
Explosives and Chemical Products, Limited. 

In 1902 the Ardeer factory first introduced oleum (fuming 
Nordhausen acid) into the manufacture of nitro-glycerine, a system 
which was four years later independently introduced at Waltham 
Abbey, and has since been adopted by some other manufacturers in 
this country. 

As the history of so-called safety explosives, i.e. explosives 
designed for use in fiery coal mines, will be dealt with in another 
chapter, it will no doubt suffice to say here that the first nitro-glycerine 
explosive of this kind was Carbonite, invented by Mr. C. E. Bichel. It 
contained 27 per cent, of nitro-glycerine, and was made in 1887 at the 
Carbonite Company's works at Schlebusch, near Cologne, and at 
Ardeer in 1897. Other explosives of this class, of which considerable 
quantities were used, were practically gelignite or gelatine dynamite 
with an admixture of ammonium oxalate. These explosives were in- 
vented by Messrs. Greaves and Hann, and were first manufactured at 
Ardeer in 1900. The first ammonium nitrate nitro-glycerine explosive 



7 6 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

was made at Ardeer in 1903. It was first called Nobel's ammonia 
powder, and afterwards Monobel. Since then the number of explosives 
containing nitro-glycerine, mostly however in small proportions, which 
appear on the list of explosives permitted to be used in coal mines, is 
very numerous. 

Nitro-glycerine contains in its molecule all the constituents of an 
explosive substance which, rapidly convertible from the solid to the 
gaseous form, produces nothing but carbonic acid, nitrogen, and water, 
with a slight excess of oxygen. This excess of oxygen is utilized in 
blasting gelatine and other gelatine compounds by the addition of 
nitrocellulose and dope. To this and the high specific gravity (1.6) of 
nitro-glycerine explosives, their extensive and increasing use must no 
doubt be ascribed. 

A disadvantage of nitro-glycerine explosives is that they freeze 
in winter, and have consequently to be thawed before they can be 
used. Within the last few years a number of suggestions have been 
made for the preparation of nitro-glycerine explosives in which the 
freezing point has been lowered. The addition of nitrated hydro- 
carbons of the aromatic series has been proposed, and explosives 
have been made on the Continent containing these ingredients, and 
sold under the name of anti-gel, anti-frost, etc. Mikolajczak has 
patented the manufacture of dinitro-glycerine, and claimed that 
explosives made with it would not congeal at ordinary temperatures. 
Lastly, the additions to nitro-glycerine of chlorhydrine and nitrated 
chlorhydrines have been patented. Up to the present, however, 
so-called unfreezable nitro-glycerine explosives have not been made in 
this country. 



RESEARCHES ON NITROGLYCERINE 
BY G. W. MACDONALD, M.Sc. 

r I "HE discovery of nitro-glycerine was announced by Sobrero to 
JL the Royal Academy of Science in Turin in 1847. In 1851 de 
Vrij, Professor of Chemistry in the School of Medicine in Rotterdam, 
communicated to the British Association for the Advancement of 
Science: (i) A preliminary account of the results of his investigation 
of this body, and a full account of his work was published later in the 
Dutch "Journal of Pharmacy" in 1854. (2) He nitrated glycerine by 
adding it to well-cooled strong nitric acid, and then precipitated it by 
an addition of strong sulphuric acid. The acids were separated from 
the nitro-glycerine by means of a tap funnel the laboratory forerunner 
of the method universally employed on a large scale until recent years. 
De Vrij obtained a yield of 184, and concluded that nitro-glycerine 
was a dinitrate. His method naturally gave low yields, and this misled 
him as to the composition of nitro-glycerine. 

In 1855 Railton (3) worked on the composition of nitro-glycerine 
and investigated its decomposition by potassium hydroxide. He used 
Liebig's method for the estimation of the relative quantities of carbon 
and nitrogen produced on combustion. The formula of nitro-glycerine 
being taken as C 3 // 5 (NO 3 )^, the ratio of the volumes of carbon 
dioxide and nitrogen should be as 2 to i. Railton obtained results 
varying from 2.156 to i down to 1.912 to i. While these results were, 
on the whole, in favour of the formula, they were not altogether satis- 
factory. Railton made no attempt to estimate the carbon and hydrogen 
absolutely, as he found it impossible to dry his nitro-glycerine, even in 
an exhausted receiver, on account of its great tendency to decompose 
sufficient proof that his sample was impure. Railton boiled nitro- 
glycerine for several hours with an aqueous solution of potassium 

77 



78 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

hydroxide, specific gravity 1.6; the liquid became homogeneous, and 
was then neutralized with sulphuric acid. Potassium nitrate was found 
to be present, and glycerine was also stated by Railton to be identified 
in the products of decomposition. He therefore concluded that nitro- 
glycerine was decomposed by potassium hydroxide with the formation 
of potassium nitrate and reformation of glycerine. 

C,H, (N0 3 )3 + 3 KOH= C, H,O, + 3 KNO y 

Gladstone and Dale (4) in 1863 examined the refractive index, 
dispersion, and specific refractive energy of nitro-glycerine as compared 
with glycerine. 

Kern, in 1874(5), investigated the phenomena exhibited by nitro- 
glycerine on heating at various temperatures. He found that at 
187 C. it boiled, evolving orange vapours; at 220 C. strong explosion ; 
262 C. strongest explosion; and at 294 C. a feeble explosion with a 
yellow flame. 

In 1875 Alfred Nobel read a paper on "Modern Blasting 
Agents" (6) before the Society of Arts, which contains a large amount 
of interesting information on the subject of nitro-glycerine, and much 
originality of view. 

In 1887 Hay and Orme Masson (7) made by far the most complete 
investigation ever carried out as regards the composition of nitro- 
glycerine. All investigations agreed in regarding it as a nitrate of 
glycerine; but while some considered it a trinitrate, others held that it 
was a mixture of tri, di, and mononitrate. Previous analyses were 
quite insufficient to establish one or the other conclusion, and were 
mainly confined to the estimation of nitrogen. By combustion and 
estimating the nitrogen by Dumas' method, they obtained the following 

results: 

Calculated for Found by 

Glycerine trinitrate. Hay and Masson. 

C. 15.86 15.91 

H. 2. 20 2.49 

N. 18.50 17.95 

O. 63.44 63.65 



RESEARCHES ON NITRO-GLYCERINE 79 

By decomposing an alcoholic solution of nitro-glycerine with an 
alcoholic solution of potassium hydroxide, and reducing the nitrate 
and nitrite so formed with ferrous chloride and hydrochloric acid they 
obtained as a mean of their results from samples of nitro-glycerine 
prepared under very varying conditions of acid composition, etc., 18.07 
per cent, of nitrogen. 

Hay (8), in 1887, carried out a very complete investigation of 
the decomposition of nitro-glycerine by potassium hydroxide and other 
re-agents. It is interesting to note that for some thirty-two years 
Railton's equation, referred to previously, was considered by chemists 
to be in the main correct, i.e., that nitro-glycerine was decomposed by 
a solution of potassium hydroxide with the production of potassium 
nitrate and the reformation of glycerine. It is true that some subsequent 
workers noticed the presence of nitrite, but it was apparently considered 
to exist in relatively small proportion. All the workers appear to have 
accepted as a fact that there was a reformation of glycerine. Hay 
found that no trace of glycerine was obtained by decomposition with 
potassium hydroxide, and that an amount of nitrous anhydride was 
formed, corresponding to 35 per cent, of the nitro-glycerine used, which 
corresponded to a reduction of two out of the three nitrate groups 
which theoretically would yield 33.48 per cent. The decomposition of 
nitro-glycerine by potassium hydroxide is represented by the following 
equation : 

C,H, (NO,) 3 + 5 KOH = KNO* + 2 KNO, + HCO.K+ CH,CO,K 

Ammonia and alkali carbonates were found to decompose nitro- 
glycerine in the same manner. The yield of nitro-glycerine was deter- 
mined, as obtained under very varying conditions of acid mixture, and 
the proportion of glycerine employed. The highest yield, 233.3 being 
found on using glycerine (10.5) nitric acid (30), sulphuric acid (30), and 
fuming sulphuric acid (30) parts. 

Perkin (9) in 1889 determined the specific rotation and molecular 



8o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

rotation of nitro-glycerine and concluded that had nitro-glycerine con- 
tained its nitrogen in any combination of oxygen other than O<f \j _ r\ 

the rotation compared with propyl nitrate would be abnormal. 

In 1904 Marshall (10) investigated the question of the vapour 
tension of nitro-glycerine. 

In 1908 Nathan and Rintoul (n) gave a complete account of the 
method of manufacture of nitro-glycerine as carried out at Waltham 
Abbey, and contributed very interesting work on the chemistry of the 
process. 

(1) Rep.B.A.A.S. (1851). 

( 2 ) Tijdsckrift voor wetensch phann (1854). 

(3) Or.J.C.S. (1855), 222. 

(4) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1863), 335. 

(5) Chem. News (1874), 153. 

(6) Journal Soc. Arts (1875). 

(7) Trans. Roy. Soc., Edin. (1887), 87. 

(8) Trans. Roy. Soc. (1887), 67. 

(9) Per kin Trans. Chem. Soc., 55, 685. 
(iQ)J.S.C.I. (1904), 185. 

(n) J.S.C.I. (1908), 193-205. 



PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES 
BY HENRY DE MOSENTHAL, F.I.C., F.C.S. 

AS far back as 1812 a society was formed in Sunderland for the 
prevention of accidents in coal mines. At that time the question 
of lighting in collieries was specially investigated, candles and oil 
lamps being in general use. Dr. William Reid Clanny suggested the 
first safety-lamp. In 1815 Sir Humphry Davy undertook his classical 
investigation, showing that marsh gas mixed with six to ten times its 
volume of air formed an explosive mixture, and as the outcome of 
these experiments he devised the lamp which bears his name, and 
which is still in extensive use. 

Shot-firing in coal mines was carried out with black powder until 
the introduction of dynamite in 1870, but it was years afterwards 
before steps were taken seriously to combat the dangers of blasting in 
coal. 

By the Coal Mines Regulations Act of 1872 the appointment of a 
competent shot-firer was made obligatory, and it was enacted that he 
should not allow the shot to be fired unless he found it safe to do so, 
this provision applying to any mine three months after any inflammable 
gas had been found. If the inflammable gas issued so freely that it 
showed a blue cap on the flame of the safety-lamp, explosives were 
only to be used in stone drifts, stone-work, and sinking of shafts in 
which the ventilation was so managed that the return air from the 
place where the powder was used passed into the main return air 
course without passing any place in actual course of working, or when 
the persons ordinarily employed in the mine were out of the mine or 
out of the part of the mine where the explosive was used. 

G 



82 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Shortly after the passing of this Act, Dr. Macnab suggested in- 
serting a cylinder filled with water in front of the charge. Sir Frederick 
Abel, who was a member of a Commission appointed to investigate 
accidents in mines, read a paper in 1873 before the Royal Society on a 
method of surrounding the explosive by a comparatively large quantity 
of water. The difficulty connected with this method of safety blasting 
was that the explosive charge was liable to touch the side of the water- 
proof envelope containing the water, thus rendering the precaution 
nugatory. In 1877 Heath and Frost suggested using a plug or cylinder 
consisting of 90 per cent, of water made into a kind of jelly by the 
addition of 10 per cent, of soap, glue, and starch. Wet moss tamping 
was also tried and liquid carbon dioxide was substituted for water. 

In 1882 Miles Settle, the Managing Director of the Madeley Coal 
and Iron Company, patented a method for holding the cartridge sus- 
pended in water in the middle of a -waterproof bag by means of a 
small circular metal support, a wire retaining this metal ring equi- 
distant from the ends of the envelope, so that the cartridge was abso- 
lutely surrounded by water. This device, in conjunction with blasting 
gelatine, was used to a considerable extent, but proved very costly and 
cumbersome, and, of course, necessitated a much larger bore-hole. 

George Trench, works manager of the Cotton Powder Company 
at Faversham, patented in 1887 a fire-extinguishing compound, con- 
sisting of sawdust saturated with a solution of alum salt and sal-ammoniac, 
which was pressed round the cartridge in the bore-hole. 

The first testing station and trial gallery was built in 1885 by the 
Prussian Government at Neunkirchen, and it was in this first trial 
gallery that the first experiments were made to determine the relative 
safety of explosives in fire-damp and coal-dust. The trial gallery was 
supplied from a neighbouring coal-mine with pit-gas obtained from 
carefully tapped "blowers," i,e., pockets in the coal-seam in which pit- 
gas regularly collected. Black powder was first tried, and was found to 
ignite pit-gas as well as coal-dust. At first the method consisted solely 
of suspending pellets or cartridges in the gallery. Later, the explosives 



PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES 83 

were fired from a mortar, without tamping, into explosive mixtures of 
varying proportions of pit-gas, air, and coal-dust. Kieselguhr dynamite 
was shown to be safe up to about 100 grammes, gelatine dynamite up 
to about 80 grammes. Nitrate of ammonia explosives and Carbonite 
gave much better results. The other explosives tested were in the first 
instance Hellhoffite, consisting of nitric acid and nitro-benzene, and 
Carbonite, which then consisted of saltpetre, nitro-glycerine, and 
sulphuretted oil. In 1886 Securite was tested, and in 1887 Roburite, and 
so-called Wetter- Dynamit. 

Coincidently with these experiments a number of explosives were 
devised, based on a theory propounded by Dr. Sprengel in 1873. He 
had shown that any combustible substance combined with an oxygen 
carrier would produce an explosive. In the beginning of 1885 Arthur 
Favier patented an explosive of this kind consisting of ammonium 
nitrate and a hydro-carbon of low melting point, such as paraffin. 
This explosive was introduced into Great Britain in 1889 under the 
name of Miners' Safety Explosive, being manufactured at Stanford-le- 
Hope, in Essex. To-day it bears the name of Ammonite, and now 
consists of ammonium nitrate and dinitro-naphthalene. 

In the year 1885 Carl Lamm patented Bellite, and in 1886 Carl 
Roth Roburite, and Hermann Schoneweg Securite. Explosives of this 
class contained ammonium nitrate, and different devices were resorted 
to in order to obviate the disadvantages due to the hygroscopicity of 
that salt. Dipping the cartridge into paraffin, ozokerite or beeswax, or 
mixtures of these was a favourite means of packing, others used metal 
cartridge cases. In some patents it is claimed that the grains of 
ammonium nitrate become coated during manufacture with the other 
ingredient or ingredients thus rendering the salt impervious to the 
moisture of the air. These explosives were not specially devised for 
use in coal mines, but, as already mentioned, the Prussian trials proved 
them to have some advantage in this respect over dynamite, gelatine 
explosives, and black powder. 

The credit for the first serious attempt to produce an explosive 



84 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

specially suited for fiery mines belongs to C. E. Bichel, who sub- 
mitted various modifications of Carbonite for trial at Neunkirchen in 
1885. 

In 1887 Mr. Emil Miiller, of Cologne, conceived the idea of 
making a safety explosive for fiery mines by the addition of a salt 
containing a large proportion of water of crystallization. To such 
explosives he gave the name of Wetter- Dynamit. He first selected 
soda crystals, and then alum, and, as we shall presently see, a modifica- 
tion of Wetter- Dynamit was introduced into this country under the 
name of Ardeer Powder. 

In 1887 a Coal Mines Regulation Act amending previous Acts 
was passed, and the use of explosives underground was further regu- 
lated, one provision being that whenever inflammable gas was reported 
as present in any mine, the shot was not to be fired unless a competent 
person appointed for the purpose had examined the place where the 
gas was reported to be, and had found that such gas had been cleared 
away, and that there was not at or near such place sufficient gas issuing 
or accumulating to render it unsafe to fire the shot; or unless the 
explosive employed in firing the shot was so used with water or other 
contrivance as to prevent it from inflaming gas; or unless the explosive 
was of such a nature that it could not inflame gas. 

In 1888 the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical 
Engineers appointed a Committee to make investigations and report 
upon the subject of flameless explosives. It took them four years 
before they were in a position to carry out their experiments, having 
had to construct a trial gallery. The representative safety explosives 
which they selected for their experiments, which lasted from March, 
1892, till the end of 1895, were Roburite, Bellite, Securite, Ammonite, 
Carbonite, Ardeer Powder, and Westfalite. 

Roburite was the first ammonium nitrate explosive introduced 
into this country. It was imported in 1887, and first manufactured at 
Gathurst, near Wigan, in 1888. At that time it consisted of ammonium 
nitrate with chlorinated dinitrobenzol. Bellite and Securite, both 




{Copyright. Mattll and Fox, Lnndon.} 
FIG. 25. DR. HERMANN SPRENGEL, F.R.S. 



PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES 87 

described as consisting of ammonium nitrate and meta-dinitrobenzene 
were imported in 1888. Bellite was manufactured at Whitnell in 1894, 
where it is still made. Securite was manufactured at Denaby from 
1889 to 1890. Carbonite was first licensed in 1888, and described 
as consisting of 25 per cent, nitro-glycerine, 41 per cent, wood 
meal, and 33 per cent, of potassium or barium nitrate, ^ per cent, 
sulphuretted benzol, and ^ per cent, sodium carbonate. Ardeer 
Powder, which was first manufactured in 1891, was a Wetter- Dynamit, 
in which, instead of soda crystals or alum, magnesium sulphate was 
added to Kieselguhr dynamite. Westfalite was first licensed in 1894, 
and described as consisting of ammonium nitrate and resin soluble in 
alcohol. 

The report of the experiments carried out by the Committee above 
referred to was published in 1896 by Mr. A. C. Kayll. According 
to a communication received from^J^rofessor Bedson, who was con- 
nected with that Committee, the site for the trial gallery was chosen 
near Hebburn Colliery, a supply of natural gas being conveniently 
obtainable there. It was, indeed, from this very colliery that Sir 
Humphry Davy obtained in 1815 the pit-gas required for his experi- 
ments. In these trials the explosive was fired from a cannon, a 
cylindrical steel block (hooped with five steel rings) 4 feet 6 inches in 
length and 1 8 inches in diameter at the breech for a length of 1 8|- inches, 
and i5f inches for the remaining length of 3 feet. The bore of the 
cannon was 42^ inches in length and i^ inch in diameter drilled out of 
the solid block. The tube into which the cannon was fired was 
101 feet in length and 3 feet in diameter, and was made of wrought 
iron plates ^ inch thick. It was built in five sections bolted together. 
The recommendations of the Committee, based on experiments with 
pit-gas and air and coal-gas and air with stemmed and unstemmed 
shots led up to the passing of the Coal Mines Regulation Act of 1896, 
which is still in force. The provisions of that Act as to explosives are 
as follows : 

" The Secretary of State on being satisfied that any explosive 



88 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

is or is likely to become dangerous may, by Order, of which notice 
may be given in such manner as he may direct, prohibit the use 
thereof in any mine or in any class of mines either absolutely or 
subject to conditions." 

This brought the regulation of shot-firing in coal mines under the 
authority of the Secretary of State, and consequently under the 
Department of H.M. Inspectors of Explosives at the Home Office. 

As an outcome of a Departmental Committee appointed in 1896 
to inquire into the testing of explosives for use in coal mines, a trial 
gallery was constructed by the Government at Woolwich in 1897. 
The late Captain Thomson, H. M. Chief Inspector of Explosives, who 
was a member of that Departmental Committee, and had seen the 
pioneer work done at Hebburn by the North of England Mining 
Institute, was entrusted with the design of the apparatus. The gallery 
consisted of a circular steel tube 27^ feet long by i\ feet in 
diameter. A paper disc is fixed at one end to form an explosion 
chamber of i$4f cubic feet capacity. The cannon was movable, and 
was mounted on a trolley, so that it could be moved along to the* open 
end of the gallery when charged, ready for firing. The cannon con- 
sisted of a cylindrical steel block 4^ feet long and 18 inches in 
diameter. The bore-hole, drilled along its axis, was 30 inches long 
and i-| inch in diameter. The cannon was so placed that its axis 
was horizontal. For getting the requisite explosive mixture, recourse 
was had to ordinary coal-gas, the mixture used containing 10 per cent, 
of coal-gas. Major Cooper-Key, now H.M. Chief Inspector of 
Explosives, was in charge of the Woolwich Testing Station when it 
was first erected, and carried out experiments which determined the 
method of testing. His exhaustive report, dated 3ist December, 1897, 
shows the care bestowed on every detail. 

The relative strength of the explosives was determined in the 
Trauzl lead block. The arbitrary standard of 3 to i based on experi- 
ence was taken to compare high explosives with explosives of the 
gunpowder class, i.e., those which are not fired with a detonator. In 



PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES 89 

the case of high explosives, a tamping of dry sand was found sufficient, 
whereas with gunpowder it was found preferable to ensure more 
thorough confinement by using another lead cylinder for this purpose. 
Taking then the standard charge as 2 oz. of dynamite No. i, the 
equivalent of the highest grade of fine grain gunpowder, namely, 
R.F.G. 2 , was taken at 6 oz., so that all explosives which are fired by a 
detonator are compared with 2 oz. of dynamite No. i, and all those 
which are not fired with a detonator with 6 oz. R.F.G. 2 gunpowder. 
The equivalent charge is not derived from the result of firing equal 
charges of each in a lead block, but calculated from the weight which 
is required to give equal expansion of the cavity to that given by the 
standard. The stemming or tamping was done with a white pottery 
clay carefully dried and in a fine state of division. All shots were 
stemmed with 9 inches of that clay well rammed. No explosive was 
placed on the Permitted List unless : 

(1) Twenty shots were fired without a single failure, or 

(2) Thirty shots were fired with only one failure, or 

(3) Forty shots were fired with only two failures. 

The number of the shots was restricted to forty. A shot was 
regarded as a failure if it ignited the gaseous mixture or left an appreci- 
able amount of the charge unexploded. 

The first Order under the 1896 Act was issued in December, 1896, 
and a list of permitted explosives was therein given. That list contains 
the names of ten explosives, and prescribes for each the minimum 
strength of detonator to be used and the nature of the cartridge 

o *- 

wrapper. Further orders were issued from time to time. 

In October, 1899, the Home Office decided to make the test at 
Woolwich more severe, placing such explosives as passed this more 
stringent test on a special list, the reason given being that while 
mine-owners had been left to select the best explosive from the Per- 
mitted List, there was nothing to distinguish in any way between those 
which had barely passed the test and those which could be fired safely 
under much more stringent conditions. The trial was limited to twenty 



90 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

shots, of which ten were fired with charges one and a half times as 
large as in the previous test with 9 inches of stemming, and ten with 
double the charge and 12 inches of stemming. The gas mixture taken 
was rendered more sensitive by increasing the proportion of coal-gas to 
1 5 per cent., and no less than twenty consecutive shots had to be fired 
without a single failure, i.e., without ignition and without leaving an 
appreciable amount of the charge unexploded. 

In 1900 the lead block was abandoned as a means of determining 
the relative strength of explosives, and the ballistic pendulum was 
adopted. This consists of a 5-ton mortar of 13 inches calibre sus- 
pended on roller bearings in an iron frame worked from an overhead 
beam. One of the guns used in the test is fired at a determined dis- 
tance from the muzzle of the mortar, with a charge of the explosive 
stemmed with a fixed weight of clay and the extreme swing of the 
mortar measured to the hundredth of an inch, indicates the relative 
strength. 

From 1899 to the end of 1901 there were two schedules to the 
Order in Council, the Permitted List and the Special List. In November, 
1901, the Permitted List of explosives was withdrawn, and only the 
explosives in the Special List, which was henceforth called the Permitted 
List, could be used in fiery and dusty mines. Since 1901 the conditions 
of the test have subsisted without alteration, except that the explosives 
prior to trial must be stored for thirty days. 

The Permitted List, as it stood on 2Oth August, 1908, contains the 
names of sixty-one explosives. These explosives can be classed as 
follows: 

i. NUro-glycerine Explosives. 

(a) Mixtures of nitro-glycerine gelatinized or not with 
nitrocellulose, and a dope of carbonaceous matter and nitrates. 

(b) the same explosive with the addition of a flame- 
quenching salt. 

(c) mixture as (a] or (&), with the addition of a nitrated 
aromatic compound. 



PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES 91 

2. Ammonium Nitrate Explosives. 

Mixture of Ammonium Nitrate with: 

(a) a carbon compound (resin, naphthalene, etc.). 
(<) an oxidizable material (aluminium, etc.). 
(c] an aromatic nitro-compound. 

3. Chlorate and Perchlorate Explosives. Mixtures in which chlor- 
ates and perchlorates are used as oxygen carriers. 

4. Gunpowder Class. The only representative of this class is 
Bobbinite, consisting of black powder made with a special charcoal, 
rich in hydrogen with the addition of starch and paraffin wax. 

It is interesting to note that a class of explosives largely used on 
the continent, more particularly in France and Belgium, and known 
there as Grisoutite or Grisoutine, consisting chiefly of ammonium 
nitrate and nitrocellulose, have not till now found their way into this 
country. 

Of late, explosives have been made in Germany with the addition 
of common salt in order to attain safety, but these explosives have not 
yet been introduced here. 

The fact that Bobbinite, virtually a black powder, should figure on 
the list, caused considerable discussion, and several ignitions in fire-damp 
ascribed to this explosive led to the appointment, in 1907, of a Depart- 
mental Committee to investigate the behaviour of Bobbinite in coal 
mines. As the outcome of this enquiry, Bobbinite was maintained on 
the Permitted List. 

The tests for safety applied on the continent differ from those 
applied by the Home Office at Woolwich. Explosives which have 
passed the test on the continent have failed to do so in this country, 
and vice versa. Captain Desborough, H. M. Inspector of Explosives, 
classifies the different methods of testing, as follows : (i) the theoretical 
or French test; (2) the firing of unconfined charges, or Austrian test; 

(3) the firing of partially confined charges, the Belgian or German test; 

(4) the firing of completely confined charges, or British test. The main 
difference in the methods of carrying out these tests lies in the size of 



92 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

the tube or gallery, and its shape. As a rule, the continental galleries 
are of greater diameter than that at Woolwich, and it is generally 
admitted that the smaller the diameter of the gallery, the more severe 
the test. In the continental testing stations, natural gas, artificial marsh 
gas or benzol are used mixed with air. The mixture of coal-gas and air 
used at Woolwich is regarded as the most sensitive of any of the gas 
mixtures used. On the continent, in most of the trial galleries, no 
tamping is used; unstemmed shots are fired into the explosive mixture, 
and the small sectional area gallery at Woolwich renders it absolutely 
necessary to stem the shots. The relative safety of explosives is deter- 
mined on the continent by fixing the " charge limit," which is the 
charge which just fails to ignite the gas mixture. H. M.'s Inspectors of 
Explosives, Major Cooper- Key in his first report in 1897, as well as 
Captain M. B. Lloyd and Captain A. P. H. Desborough, in a special 
report, have stated that the primary object of the British testing 
station is to enable an empirical line to be drawn between such ex- 
plosives as may and such as may not be used in mines to which the 
Explosives in Coal Mines Orders apply, or in other words to eliminate 
the more dangerous explosives from those used in fiery and dusty 
collieries. They state that it is impossible in a single test to reproduce 
all the varying conditions which may occur in practice. In fact it was 
recognized from the very first that no test could possibly imitate the 
conditions of use of an explosive in a mine, and therefore the object of 
the British Government Test has been to devise a method of testing 
which should be as uniform as possible. 

The testing of explosives for safety has formed the subject of 
discussion on many occasions, and a great number of attempts have 
been made to determine why under certain conditions one explosive 
should behave differently in fire-damp or in a mixture of gas and air 
than another. 

It is generally admitted that the safety of the explosive depends 
on the length, duration, and temperature of the flame, but the con- 
tributory factors are the subject of controversy. No explosive is 



PERMITTED EXPLOSIVES 93 

absolutely flameless, and none absolutely safe in fire-damp; flameless- 
ness and safety being relative terms. 

The explosives here dealt with are also used for other purposes 
besides coal-mining, more particularly for quarrying and for blasting 
in soft rock. The low specific gravity of ammonium nitrate and the 
alkali chlorates is a bar to their use in hard rock where the bore- 
hole is necessarily costly. 



PERCUSSION CAPS 
BY E. WYNDHAM HULME, B.A. 

Prime agent of Percussion's reign, 
Its glory shall Forsyth obtain; 
The first the flint who did discard, 
May fairly claim a just reward. 

Sporting Magazine, 1820-21. 

FULMINATES of gold and silver were known before the year 
1 799, but not put to practical use. Samuel Pepys mentions in his 
diary under date 

"Nov. n, 1663. At noon to the Coffee-house, where with Dr. 
Allen some good discourse about physick and chymistry. And among 
other things I telling him what Dribble the German Doctor do offer 
of an instrument to sink ships; he tell me that which is more strange, 
that something made of gold, which they call in Chymistry Aurum 
Fulminans, a grain I think he said, of it put into a silver spoon and 
fired, will give a blow like a musquett and strike a hole through the 
silver spoon downward, without the least force upward and this he can 
make a cheaper experiment of, he says, with iron prepared." 

A number of fulminating compounds either with mercuric oxide 
and sulphur, or mercuric nitrate and phosphorus, or mercuric oxide and 
potassium chlorate, and others were proposed, but none of them could 
be used. It was at a meeting of the Royal Society on the i3th March, 
1800, that Edward Howard, F.R.S., announced the discovery of what 
is now known as fulminate of mercury. He analysed his fulminate of 
mercury according to every method then known to chemists and, in 
one of his experiments, treated "the mercurial powder by means of 
dilute sulphuric acid." He was severely injured by an ensuing explosion, 
which led him to confess, that " he would feel more disposed to pro- 
secute other chemical subjects." 

94 




\Copyright. Miss M. A. Xeiulands, London.} 
FIG. 26. EDWARD CHARLES HOWARD, F.R.S. 




FIG. 27. WILLIAM ELEY. 



II 



PERCUSSION CAPS 99 

Howard's experiments show that fulminate of mercury was useless 
as a military powder, but suggest the possible use for breaking up 
ordnance. As a primer, he points out that gunpowder laid over the 
fulminate was not inflamed by the explosion of the latter. 

The application of detonating powder to the discharge of firearms 
came later; at first chlorate powder was used, the mercuric fulminate 
cap is of a later date. It made the cartridge possible, the success of 
which is largely due to the labours of William Eley. Since the 
question of priority in this invention is in dispute, the following notes, 
which are the result of a careful investigation of the subject, will be of 
interest. 

ALEXANDER JOHN FORSYTH. 

Forsyth's experiments with detonator locks were first made in the 
year 1805, when he constructed a lock for a sporting gun with which 
he shot " with safety during the whole season." In the spring of 1806 
he submitted the invention to the Master-General of the Ordnance, by 
whom he was requested to adapt his principle to the requirements of 
the military service. After some ,600 had been spent in experiments, 
Forsyth claimed to have succeeded in applying his system both to the 
musket and a three-pounder, and negotiations were opened at the 
inventor's suggestion, for basing his remuneration on the saving of 
gunpowder effected by the new mechanism. This gave the Govern- 
ment a loophole for escape. A change of ministry took place, and 
Lord Chatham, the successor of the Marquis of Hastings in the 
Mastership of the Ordnance at once discharged Forsyth from further 
experimenting on the Government's behalf. The inventor's bare 
expenses were paid, but no other remuneration was given until 1843, 
after the percussion system was adopted officially, when a sum of ^"1,000 
was divided amongst Forsyth's relatives the inventor having died in 
that year. To return: however, in 1807, Forsyth, acting on the sug- 
gestion of the Government, took out a patent drafted as stated by 
himself, " in the most general items," i.e., he claimed all forms of per- 



ioo BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

cussion locks with all suitable detonating mixtures. These claims after 

o 

arduous fighting, were finally sustained in Forsyth v. Riviere in 1819, 
after which trial the trade appears to have accepted some form of 
licence. Great as the merits of Forsyth's invention unquestionably 
were, the effect of the patent was prejudicial to the development of 
the industry. Forsyth was obstinately wedded to his detonating mix- 
ture, viz., potassium chlorate, charcoal and sulphur, and he persisted in 
retaining the original design of his lock. It is stated that his guns 
were manufactured at Liege, which would have made the efficient 
supervision of improvements difficult. According to Mr. Blanch, we 
find in the "London Directory" of 1812, Forsyth and Co., Patent 
Gunmakers, 10, Piccadilly, and in 1818 at 8, Leicester Square, where 
they remained until 1852. The original gun as invented by Forsyth 
was exhibited at the 1851 Exhibition in Hyde Park, London. 

Probably the enforcement of his patent rights occupied most of 
the leisure hours of the Scotch Minister, who to the last (viz. in 
1843) failed to recognize the superiority of the cap and nipple 
mechanism. Be that as it may, Forsyth's resistance to improvements 
in the percussion lock during the term of his patent accounts for the 
obscurity which has shrouded the history of the invention of the 
fulminate of mercury percussion cap. The period and country of origin 
of the invention are fairly well defined, the number of claimants to the 
honour are considerable. In the present essay it is not pretended that 
all difficulties have been solved, or that all avenues of research have 
been finally explored, but something, it is hoped, has been done 
towards stating with precision the relative claims of those who were 
instrumental in the introduction of the new system between 1818 and 
I823. 1 

The Forsyth lock was both original and ingenious. In place of 
the priming pan outside the flush hole, a round plug, having a small 
cavity on the top which led to the flash hole, was fitted into the barrel, 

1 The following description of the Forsyth and Manton locks has been kindly 
supplied by Mr. Herbert J. Blanch. 




FIG. 28. FORSVTH MAGAZINE (ASSEMBLED). 




FIG. 29. FORSYTH MAGAZINE (DETACHED). 



l ;Ktf;;. BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

and upon this plug was pivoted a magazine in the shape of a small 
scent bottle with two necks opposite each other. In one neck was 
mounted a striker rod held up by a light spring, and in the other neck 
was a hole drilled down to the central plug, to contain enough 
detonating powder for about twenty discharges, covered by a sliding 
lid. In this lid, opposite the hole containing the powder, was a similar 
hole fitted up with a plug of horn or leather, to act as a safety vent in 
case the entire contents were discharged by friction or jar. This 
perhaps only rarely happened, but the great objection to the system 
was the necessity of handling the loose detonating powder, and, 
although pellets or pillules of various compositions were tried, as soon 
as the copper tube and copper cap had been invented, which obviated 
the necessity of actually handling the detonating powder, and cut it up 
into very small quantities, which were quite safe for ordinary handling, 
and yet sufficiently sensitive when placed in position on the lock and 
fired by a blow from the hammer, all attempts to work with the loose 
powder were abandoned. 

The operation of priming with the Forsyth gun was to rotate the 
magazine primed until the hole containing the detonating powder was 
over the small cavity in the top of the plug leading to the touch-hole, 
when a small quantity fell by gravity into the cavity of the plug, 
assisted by the jar of the primer being arrested in its rotation against a 
stop pin on the lock plate. 

The primer was then rotated into the opposite position, which 
brought the small striker rod over the cavity now containing the 
detonating priming, and ready to be fired on the fall of the hammer on 
the striker. 

In 1816 "Joe Manton" patented a gun having a copper tube 
containing detonating powder held " fore and aft " in a hole in the 
head of the hammer, which, in falling, struck the open end into 
a cavity in a plug, containing the flash hole, projecting from the 
barrel. 

In 1816 he improved on this in another patent, by placing the 



PERCUSSION CAPS 103 

copper tube in the flash hole itself, where it was held by a spring cover, 
and was struck in the middle, through a hole in the cover, by the 
hammer which had an axe-shaped striking piece. 

This gave a very powerful flash and certain ignition, and could 
not blow the hammer back again, as might happen with the other 
system, the only drawback being that the fired tube might blow out 
to the right or left with considerable force, to the danger of any one 

near. 

/ 

E. GOODE WRIGHT, OF HEREFORD. 

In 1823 Wright published his classical paper on the preparation 
of fulminate of mercury caps. 1 In this paper he strongly asserts the 
superiority of the fulminate over the chlorate of potash mixture of 
Forsyth. Wright was led to make his experiments after hearing a 
series of lectures in chemistry delivered by Murray at Hereford in 
November, 1822, at which date the copper cap was well known. 
Indeed, Wright's statement contains an admission of the fact. " After 
he (i.e. the lecturer) left us I was induced to make the powder and try it 
with the copper cap." In the same paper, however, Wright refers to 
experiments made by him " several years ago " with fulminate of 
mercury as a primer for guns, and this statement is carried back by 
the compilers of the "Temple Anecdotes" to the year 1805, the year 
of Forsyth's original experiments. In confirmation they quote an 
undated letter from the Duke of Wellington to Wright to show that 
Wright was at that time advocating the use of fulminate of mercury in 
copper caps in the military services. A search through the Board of 
Ordnance papers from 1806-26 shows that the paper correspondence 
has not been preserved. It may have perished in the fire at the Tower 
of London circa 1840, in which the original correspondence, re 
Forsyth's invention, was lost; or the Duke may have treated the letter 
as personal correspondence. The letter, however, can be dated 

1 "Phil. Mag." vol. Ixii, p. 203. 



104 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

approximately as not earlier than 1820, for the Duke's answer refers to 
an official report condemning the percussion system, which has been 
preserved, and which is dated I2th May, 1820. This correspondence 
therefore cannot affect the main issue, for the copper cap was already 
the subject of a French patent prior to this date. Nor can the early 
experiments of Wright have been of such a nature as to invalidate 
Forsyth's patent, for in 1819, in Forsyth v. Riviere, the question of 
novelty was exhaustively treated, and the only apparent anticipation 
alleged by the defendant was that of a clergyman named Butler, of 
Okeford, near Blandford in Dorsetshire, who had invented a lock of 
similar description, and communicated the idea to a gunmaker named 
Symonds, but the judge directed that the disclosure was insufficient to 
affect the validity of Forsyth's patent. 

F. JOYCE, CHEMIST. 

Wright's paper was followed in 1824 by the experimental manu- 
facture of copper caps by the chemist, F. Joyce. In an excellent 
monograph, entitled "The Sporting Cartridge" (London, 1906), 
Messrs. Joyce and Co. claim an earlier date, but the correct date is, I 
venture to assert, settled by the following quotation from the third 
edition of Colonel Hawker's " Instruction to young Sportsmen " (1824): 
" Since the first part of this work was printed off, a letter has been 
received from Mr. Joyce, chemist, u, Old Compton Street, Soho, 
inclosing a specification of a new ' anti-corrosive percussion powder.' 
All he can say is that he has fired twenty-four copper caps with this 
new powder after dipping each cap for some time in water, and not one 
of them missed fire." In the fifth edition of Hawker (1826) the writer 
further states: " It may be hardly fair to say publicly what the com- 
position is (because Mr. Joyce candidly told me, though I believe it is 
pretty well known), and although it was long ago adopted by Mr. 
Goode Wright, of Hereford, according to a statement which, as an utter 
stranger, I was favoured with by the gentleman;" and he goes on to 
give Joyce credit for having overcome many obstacles before bringing 



PERCUSSION CAPS 105 

the percussion caps to perfection. Obviously the quality of the copper, 
the tempering and water-proofing of the fulminate were all matters 
which would require careful working out before the manufacture could 
be established on a large scale. The evidence of the London Postal 
Directories supports Hawker's statement. Joyce's name appears from 
1823-27, as "Operative Chemist, n, Old Compton Street." In 1828 
F. and E.Joyce are styled " Percussion powder manufacturers," and in 
1831 they re-appear under the same description at 55, Bartholomew 
Close. In 1843 F. Joyce describes himself as "practical chemist, 
inventor and sole manufacturer of the anti-corrosive gun cap," etc. 
The facts suggest a close connection between Wright's paper in 1823 
and the manufacture of the copper cap by Joyce in 1824. 

JOSEPH EGG. 

Our examination of Wright's claims has tended to prove that the 
invention of the copper cap and nipple mechanism preceded by some 
years the practical information required for the manufacture of the 
fulminate of mercury. Wright appears to have been the first to give 
this information to the public. Apart from the question of the fulminate 
two individuals have directly claimed the invention of the copper per- 
cussion cap and nipple mechanism, viz., Joshua Shaw, the naturalized 
American, and Joseph Egg, the Piccadilly gunmaker. The latter 
engraved his claims on his own gun-locks, and it is probable that he 
was one of the first London gunmakers to put this class of lock upon 
the market. As late, however, as 1821 he was pushing a percussion 
gun-lock, which is thus described in the " Sporting Magazine," 1821 : 

Of magazine some did complain, 
And vowed it threatened senseless brain, 
A safer mode by tube and peg, 
Is offered to the world by Egg. 

His adoption of the cap and nipple mechanism was probably sub- 
sequent to this date. In 1841, when public interest was again aroused 
by the adoption of the percussion cap by the military authorities, 



io6 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Mr. H. Wilkinson, of Pall Mall, took great trouble to ascertain the 
truth as to the invention of the copper cap, and published the result of 
his researches in his "Engines of War," page 187, from which the 
following abstract is taken : 

" Mr. Egg, I believe, purchased the invention from Mr. Roantree, 
a gunmaker at Barnard Castle, Durham, who had it from a workman 
employed by Mr. Joshua Shaw, now residing at Philadelphia. I can 
trace it no further. Mr. Shaw assured me that in 1814 he invented a 
steel cap, which, when fired, was retained to be primed again; that in 
1815 he made a pewter cap, which was thrown away after using; and, 
lastly, that in 1816 he used a copper cap precisely similar to those at 
present employed. He made application for a patent in England; but 
the solicitor, to whom it was referred, decided that it could not be 
obtained without infringing Forsyth's patent then in force." 

JOSHUA SHAW. 

Before discussing Shaw's claims, we must now turn to the French 
specifications, which contain the earliest description of the invention. 
On the 2Qth July, 1818, Prelat, a Paris gunmaker, patented a hollow 
cock and a conical nipple, which was charged by dropping a few grains 
of fulminate of mercury into the cavity of the cock. On the 28th July, 
1820, he filed a certificate of addition, in which a flanged copper cap 
charged with a secret composition is substituted. A month later, 
Deboubert, also a Paris gunmaker, patented a cylindrical copper cap 
charged with fulminate of silver. Both these patents are believed to be 
merely copies or modifications of models made by the London gun- 
makers. It is also stated that the manufacture of fulminate of mercury 
started in France in 1819. Now let us turn to Shaw's statements. 
The dates of his first visit to the United States, of his return to 
England, and his final settlement in the States are uncertain. The 
dates of his alleged applications for English and American patents are 
also unknown, and the specification of his first American patent, dated 
1822, was destroyed by fire. In July, 1824, however, a committee of 



PERCUSSION CAPS 107 

the Franklin Institute reported favourably on his copper and paste- 
board primers (" Mech. Mag.," vol. iii, p. 142). These were charged 
with Forsyth's compound, " which had been the only vehicle in use till 
within some few months, when a new discovery was made of a metallic 
preparation, perfectly neutral, and indeed less corrosive than gunpowder 
itself, and of this Mr. Shaw has availed himself." The committee goes 
on to show that Shaw was using his detonating compounds in waxed 
pasteboard primers, which were pressed into a recess in the breech of 
the gun. At this date, therefore, Shaw was using Forsyth's compound 
and fulminate of mercury in the form of flat caps. His earlier experi- 
ments with the cylindrical metal caps had been laid aside until Wright's 
paper had shown a practical method of manufacturing and applying the 
fulminate of mercury. This view is supported by Shaw's letter in the 
" Franklin Journal " for 1829 (pp. 271-73), in which he defends Wright 
against a foreign critic who had written in favour of the chlorate of 
potash primer. After the expiration of Forsyth's patent, he writes: 
' Wright introduced the fulminating mercury, since which there have 
been no complaints whatever of the corrosion of the locks," and he goes 
on to state that percussion guns were more generally used in America 
than in England, "although the guns themselves are the manufacture 
of that country," owing to the superiority of the American copper caps. 
As regards the latter, Shaw states : " I have been in the habit of using 
copper caps for at least the last thirteen years (i.e., from 1816), and for 
the last seven years (i.e., from 1822) have manufactured and sold them 
at the rate of two millions annually." Shaw's claim to the invention of 
the percussion cap are restated somewhat differently in " The Scientific 
American " for 7th August, 1869, which contains his memoir, but in our 
present state of imperfect information it is safer to regard his claims as 
not proven. As in the case of Joyce, it is probable that Shaw's manu- 
facture of percussion caps on a large scale was subsequent to and 
inspired by Wright's paper in 1823, and in spite of a statement to the 
contrary, it is doubtful whether the copper percussion cap was included 
in his patent of 1822. It is greatly to be wished that some American 



io8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

investigator would ascertain the whereabouts of the MS. autobiography 
which Shaw is said to have compiled. It is impossible to doubt, 
however, that he was closely connected with the first trials of the copper 
cap that he was present at the birth of the invention, if not actually 
the inventor, and that these experiments took place in this country 
about 1816, the year when Manton unsuccessfully contested the validity 
of Forsyth's patent. If it could be shown that these experiments were 
conducted in London, Manton's workshop would be the likeliest place ; 
and mention is made by Colonel Hawker, in the seventh edition 
of his work, of one of Manton's workmen, "J. Greenfield one of Joe's 
very best workmen and his cabinet counsellor in all matters of difficulty 
(than whom) no man in London has invented more little articles for 
other people to get the credit of." This individual had recently been 
taken into the service of F. Joyce, the percussion cap maker. If 
some connection could be established between Greenfield and Shaw, 
the mystery of the copper cap would perhaps be over; bitf too 
many links in the chain of evidence are wanting to warrant any definite 
conclusion. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

(i) METALLIC FULMINATE AND THE COPPER PERCUSSION CAP 

1794. Experiments on combustible and explosive compounds. 

Minutes of the Society for Philosophical Experiments. (London, 

i795 PP. 315-30.) 

Include experiments on gold and silver fulminates. 
1800. Howard, E. On a new fulminating mercury. (Phil. Trans., 1800, 

pt. i, pp. 204-38.) 

1833. On fulminates and the manufacture of the percussion cap. 
(Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopedia: Manufactures in Metal, vol. ii, 
pp. 119-23-) 



PERCUSSION CAPS 109 

1868. Bishop, J. L. History of American manufactures, 3rd ed. vol. iii, 
p. 444. 

Describes the process of making percussion caps at 
Waterbury. 



(2) ALEXANDER JOHN FORSYTH (1769-1843) 

1799, 2nd June. Forsyth, A. J. On certain useful properties of the 
oxygenated muriatic acid (as a mordant). (Nicholson's Journal, 
vol. iii, 1800, pp. 158-60.) 

1805-6 and 1840-3. Forsyth's original correspondence (1805-6) with 
the Ordnance Office was destroyed by fire, but the substance is 
preserved in 

(a) The Mechanic's Magazine, vol. xxxii, 1839-40, which 
contains a reprint of an article in the Aberdeen Herald; (fr) his 
Brief Statement (Ordnance Office Papers " Inventions ") pre- 
served at the Record Office, in which his claim to remuneration 
by the Government is stated. Forsyth's claims were supported 
by Lord Brougham " his counsel in all his law suits " whose 
certificate is in the same file. 
1811-19. Forsyth's Law Suits: 

1811. Forsyth v. Vicars. 

1816. Forsyth v. Manton. ("The Times," I3th and i6th July.) 

1818. Forsyth v. Manton. (Ibid., i4th December. Full report.) 

1819. Forsyth #. Levier. (Ibid., 3rd May. Injunction.) 
1819. Forsyth >. Riviere. (Ibid., 5th June.) 

'1819. Forsyth v. Hall. (Ibid., i4th August.) 

Forsyth v. Riviere being the most important case as regards 
evidence of prior user, some pains have been taken to trace a 
fuller report than that in " The Times." The King's Bench 
records are of no value for the purpose and the Affidavit series 
yielded little of value. Messrs. Crowders, Vizard, Oldham and 
Co., 51, Lincoln's Inn Fields, successors of Vizard and Blower, 



no BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

solicitors for the plaintiff in this action state that their pre- 
decessors destroyed a quantity of papers about forty years ago 
including probably the briefs, etc. in this case. Application was 
also made to the successors of the defendants' solicitor, Jenkyns, 
but hitherto without result. 

(3) E. GOODE WRIGHT, OF HEREFORD 

1823. 18 Sept. Wright, E. G., on the firing of gunpowder by fulmin- 
ating mercury (Phil. Mag., vol. Ixii, p. 203). Reprinted in Gill's 
Techn. Repos., vol. iv, pp. 313, 316, with an editorial, which 
elicited a further statement from Wright (Ibid., pp. 370-72). 
Wright's experiments were repeated in Germany by Lieut. 
Schmidt, who came to an opposite conclusion. (Schweigger's 
Journal, 1824, p. 66, translated in Franklin's Journal, 1829, 
p. 100.) For further controversy, see Shaw, 1829. 

1869. Temple, R. and C. The Temple Anecdotes, Invention and 
Discovery, pp. 93-95. (The Duke and the Inventor.) There is 
no trace of Wright's letter to the Duke of Wellington, referred 
to here, in the Ordnance Papers " Inventions" or in letters 
preserved at the Record Office. 

(4) JOSHUA SHAW (1776-1860) 

Life. Scientific American. 1869, 7th Aug., and Dunlap (W.), History 
of the arts of Design in the U. S., vol. ii, p. 320. A MS. Auto- 
biography is said to exist. 

1822. Franklin Committee. Report (on Shaw's percussion primers^ 
(Mechanic's Mag., vol. iii, 1825, p. 142-43). 

1827. Shaw, J. Remarks on the properties essential in good gun- 
powder, and upon the methods of testing its strength. Franklin 
Journal, vol. iv, pp. 127-29. (Recommends a slow powder for 
percussion guns.) 

1827. Shaw, J. Description of a method of testing the quickness of 



PERCUSSION CAPS in 

gunpowder (Franklin Journal, vol. iv, pp. 282-4). Shaw here 
refers to apparatus constructed by him in 1814, to test the 
advantage " of using the copper caps or primers which I had 
then invented " with the percussion gun, his conclusion being 
that the slowest powder was the best for that class of gun. The 
copper cap referred to was probably a flat cap covered with 
copper foil. There is no suggestion of the cap and nipple 
mechanism. 

1829. Shaw, J. Remarks on an article ... on fulminating powders 
(a reply to Lieut. Schmidt). (Franklin Journal, N.S., vol. iii, 
pp. 271-3.) 

1830. Shaw, J. Observations on the fabrication of detonating powder. 
(Franklin Journal, N.S., vol. vi, pp. 108-10.) States that he 
prefers the chlorate mixture for firing ordnance. 

(5) SHAW'S PATENTS 

There is no trace of Shaw's alleged applications for an English and 
American patent prior to 1820; probably an application here 
would have brought him into conflict with Forsyth, while in the 
U.S. a term of two years' residence was required of an alien. 
The Specification of his first U.S. patent, 1822, was destroyed 
by fire at Washington. 



BICKFORD'S SAFETY-FUSE 
BY SIR GEORGE J. SMITH 

~^HE frequent accidents resulting from the use of explosives in tin 
-L and copper mining, chiefly owing to the uncertain duration of the 
time between the lighting of the rush or quill and the exploding of the 
charge, led Mr. William Bickford, of Tuckingmill, in or about 1830, to 
turn his thoughts towards the invention of some method whereby 
blasting operations could be conducted with the minimum of risk to 
the miner. Mr. Bickford's motives were purely philanthropic; it 
remained for his successors to turn his invention into an extensive and 
legitimate commercial enterprise. 

On the 6th September, 1831, Mr. Bickford took out his first 
Patent (No. 6159) for the Miner's Safety-Fuse. His object was to 
provide a protected core of powder, thin and continuous, along which 
the fire might travel slowly at a uniform and determinate rate of speed. 
This result he obtained by causing a number of jute threads, passed 
through an orifice and stretched by means of a weight attached to their 
extremities, to rotate slowly while, at the same time, a small current 
of fine powder fell into the tube thus formed, and was retained therein 
as a slender core. To use his own words in the specification of his 
process : 

" I embrace in the centre of my fuse, in a continuous line through- 
out its whole length, a small portion, or compressed cylinder, or rod of 
gunpowder, or other proper combustible matter, prepared in the usual 
pyrotechnical manner of fire-work for the discharging of ordnance; and 
which fuse, so prepared, I afterwards more effectually secure and defend 
by a covering of strong twine made of similar material, and wound 

112 



BICKFORD'S SAFETY-FUSE 113 

thereon, at nearly right angles to the former twist, by the operation 
which I call ' countering,' hereinafter described : and I then immerse 
them in a bath of heated varnish, and add to them afterwards a coat of 
whiting, bran, or other suitable powdery substance, to prevent them 
from sticking together or to the fingers of those who handle them ; and 
I thereby also defend them from wet or moisture or other deterioration, 
and I cut off the same fuse in such lengths as occasion may require for 
use : each of these lengths constituting, when so cut off, a fuse for 
blasting of rocks and mining, and I use them either under water or on 
land, in quarries of stone and mines for detaching portions of rocks, or 
stone, or mine, as occasion may require, in the manner long practised 
by, and well known to, miners and blasters of rocks." 

Previous to the invention of Safety Fuse, the devices for convey- 
ing the fire to the charge were of the most crude and primitive descrip- 
tion. Sometimes a small trail of gunpowder from the charge to an 
extemporized slow-match, such as impregnated paper : and sometimes 
quills plucked from geese, filled with fine grain powder and lengthened 
where needful by an insertion of one quill into another, while, oftener 
still, rushes were used, the rush having been first split, the pith scooped 
out, its place filled with powder, and the two halves bound together 
again by fine string. 1 

The reference to the use of the powder quill as a former means of 
conveying fire to the charge, recalls an amusing point of provincial 
philology observed in the West of England for many years after the 
introduction of the Bickford Fuse. 

The inventors of the new method decided, early in its history, that 
8 yards, or 24 feet, was a convenient unit of length in which to issue 
their fuse, and Mr. Bickford designated that length " a coil," the name 
by which fuses are still known throughout the Anglo-Saxon world, 
although, in countries under American influence, the 24 feet length has 
been altered to 25 and 50 feet for convenience of reckoning under the 
decimal system. 

1 "Victoria History of Cornwall." 
I 



ii4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Those familiar with Cornish and Devon pronunciation will be 
aware that the words "coil " and "quill " have, or at least had, half a 
century ago, a very similar intonation, and as " the coil " in scores of 
mines substituted "the quill," the old miners and many of their agents 
assimilated the one word to the other, the writer of this memorandum 
having executed many orders for Bickford's Fuse, some within the 
present century, described as " 100 queals"- this typically Cornish 
association between the old and the new surviving through more than 
two generations. 

To the inventor's son, Major John Solomon Bickford, and to the 
late Dr. George Smith, antiquarian and historian, who married the 
inventor's daughter, belongs the credit of laying the foundations of 
safety-fuse as a commercial undertaking. They directed its manufacture 
throughout their lives, and were succeeded by the inventor's three 
grandsons, the late Mr. Bickford Smith, M.P., Sir George J. Smith, 
of Treliske, and Mr. H. Arthur Smith, M.A., Barrister-at-Law; with 
the two latter are now associated five great-grandsons of Mr. Bickford. 
To Mr. Thomas Davey, of Tuckingmill, belongs the larger share of 
the credit for the original mechanical appliances, and to other members 
of the Davey family, some descendants and relatives of whom are still 
identified with the industry, the credit for bringing chemical science to 
bear upon the manufacturing processes. At the Tuckingmill factory, 
where between 200 and 300 hands are employed, there has also been a 
remarkable hereditary succession of the original employees, including 
to-day grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who made the 
first safety-fuse under the guidance of Mr. William Bickford. 

Mr. Bickford's colleagues and immediate successors naturally 
confined their attention, for the first few years of their business, to the 
preparation of fuses suitable to the mines of Cornwall and Devon, 
amongst which they lived, and the varied and somewhat exacting 
demands made by the requirements of those mines, furnished a good 
school for the development of an invention which was destined later 
to be adopted throughout the mining world; thus, the original Single 




FIG. 30. WILLIAM BICKFORD. 



BICKFORD'S SAFETY-FUSE 117 

Fuse, briefly described above, was soon found to require an additional 
coat of tape, applied spirally, and insulated in an extra varnish, for use 
in damp and wet places, whilst the exigencies of shaft sinking and 
other rough and very wet conditions, soon suggested the addition of 
another coating of tape and varnish, resulting in the well-known 
Double-Tape Fuse. 

It was early in the eighteen-forties that Mr., afterwards Dr. George 
Smith, brought the Bickford Fuse under the notice of the War Office 
and Royal Engineer authorities, where he was favourably received by 
Colonel, afterwards General, Pasley, and by Colonel, afterwards Sir 
John F. Burgoyne. Dr. Smith used to relate with amused interest 
how General Pasley, after examining and testing the little instrument, 
denounced himself, with military emphasis of language, for having been 
too stupid to have invented so simple a thing himself. " Here have I," 
said he, " with the Arsenal behind me been all these years trying to 
scheme a safe and simple means of conveying fire to the blasting 
charge, and never thought of trying to make black gunpowder burn 
slowly and regularly, which a Cornishman has discovered in a rope 
walk." 

One result of these official tests was that the Government Depart- 
ments adopted the Bickford Fuse with more than their usual 
promptitude, and it has been largely employed in the Services for 
engineering and military purposes ever since, the gradual and pro- 
nounced improvements in electric firing not having displaced it to the 
present day. 

Soon after its first adoption by the Government, the advantages 
of the Bickford Fuses were also brought before a Committee of the 
House of Commons, .during one of the earlier of the long series of 
examinations as to means for minimizing the danger in mines; the 
principal witness before the Parliamentary Committee in favour of the 
great diminution of danger which the invention had conferred, being 
Mr. John Taylor, the founder of the firm of John Taylor and Sons, 
who had already, for several years, experienced its efficacy in the 



n8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Cornish mines under his direction (vide " Mechanic's Magazine," 
vol. xxiv, p. 412). 

Probably resulting from this House of Commons inquiry, a Com- 
mission, including eminent surgeons, visited Cornwall and Devon in 
the early forties to report on improvements in means for the protection 
of life and limb, and their testimony was very pronounced as to the 
very largely decreased ratio of blasting accidents directly resulting 
from the adoption of Mr. Bickford's invention. The principal local 
surgeons the Messrs. Lanyon of Camborne stated before this Com- 
mission that their long experience as surgeons, in the mining district, 
warranted their estimate that the introduction of the safety-fuse had 
diminished the " number of killed and wounded from blasting accidents 
in West Cornwall by fully 90 per cent. ; " this testimony amply justifying 
the inventor's beneficent design. 

The requirements of the Government for blasting and military 
operations in various climates; and the extension of the Bickford 
manufacture to America in 1836, where its headquarters are still at 
Simsbury, Connecticut; to France in 1839, where its headquarters are 
near Rouen; to Germany in 1844, and successively to other countries, 
naturally led to the successive evolution of different types of fuse in 
varying diameters, methods of waterproofing and varieties of finish for 
adaptation to tropical or arctic climates. One of the most important of 
these was the adoption of gutta-percha some time before 1840 to 
render fuse impermeable for subaqueous blasting, although it should 
be observed that, without the aid of this expensive material, the 
inventors had already produced fuses, protected only with the cheaper 
hydrocarbons, which had been successfully used even for submarine 
purposes, and their successors have still preserved the art of obtaining 
a high degree of resistance to water by the old and cheaper methods. 
One of the first uses for subaqueous fuses coated in some cases with 
gutta-percha and sometimes with the other Bickford varnishes, was in 
the blasting operations for deepening Kingstown Harbour Works, 
Dublin, during the third decade of the last century. It was soon found, 



BICKFORD'S SAFETY-FUSE 119 

however, as many a consumer may have learnt to his cost, that the 
best gutta-percha is liable to rapid deterioration from exposure to the air, 
especially in high temperatures, and the Bickford firm met this require- 
ment by an exterior coating protecting the gutta-percha itself, originally 
adopted for the Government of India, which will preserve the gutta- 
percha thus additionally insulated for several years in perfect efficiency. 

We need not dilate on the obvious expedients which resulted 
from the introduction of gutta-percha to the trade, such as the re- 
duplicating of coats into double, triple, and even quadruple coverings 
to meet the extreme exigencies of deep-sea blasting, the largest kind 
ever made of more than half an inch diameter locally known as 
"Jumbo," having been produced for the Dutch Government for their 
harbour operations in the Dutch East Indies. More than 1,000,000 
yards of one of these forms of protected gutta-percha fuse were used 
in driving the Severn tunnel, and more than 600,000 yards in 
excavating the Manchester Ship Canal. 

Shortly after the introduction of gutta-percha fuse, a Cornish 
miner named Carbines, of Hayle, thought he had hit upon a system 
far preferable to any of these waterproof coatings, namely, by the 
manufacture of the Metallic Safety-fuse, in which the old black fuse- 
powder, or an easy adaptation of the same, was used as the centre of the 
lead or composition pipe, drawn out to the proper diameter. This 
invention was some years later brought to mechanical perfection by 
the Brothers Tangye, founders of the great Birmingham firm of that 
name. But, with all the advantages claimed for it, it never succeeded 
in seriously displacing the textile and varnished production known as 
the " Bickford Fuse." 

A critical period in the history of safety-fuse was reached when 
the invention of Higher Explosives led to the adoption of the ful- 
minate capsule, now termed the detonator, as a universal intermediary 
between the fuse and the charge. It is obvious that an exactitude and 
regularity of diameter for fitting these detonating caps thereupon 
became essential, for which there had been no previous necessity. 



120 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

The principal manufacturers promptly met the new circumstances 
by providing a series of fuses for different classes of operations, but 
all fitting the detonating tubes with sufficient accuracy, the result being 
that the Bickford fuses were soon, and are still, more uniformly used 
with the Higher Explosives than had previously been the case with 
gunpowder. 

Omitting minor improvements and modifications, the next impor- 
tant invention in fuse manufacture worth mention is that of the 
Bickford Instantaneous Fuse in 1855 by Mr. Simon Davey, head of 
the Bickford House, near Rouen, it having been originally requisitioned 
by the French Government; and in an improved form this article was 
employed during the Franco-German war. 

In appearance this variety is like a large safety-fuse, but is 
usually coloured bright red to distinguish it as being of the very 
rapid burning or explosive kind, its speed ranging from 100 to 
300 feet per second. It is fired in the Services by means of a special 
pistol, originally with a percussion cap, later by a small guncotton 
cartridge. 

Although originally designed for military use the Instantaneous 
Fuse was soon adopted also for civil purposes; the grouping of several 
such fuses in a so-called Volley-firer, or the extension of a series by 
successive connections on the rock face to be blasted, being found an 
effective and economic means of producing simultaneous ignition of 
several charges. 

The enormous charges employed in the great blasts at the 
Dinorwic Slate Quarries, Llanberis, North Wales (October, 1893), in 
which 6,850 Ib. of Blasting Gelatine were used, displacing 235,000 tons 
of granite; and at the Penrhyn Quarries (April, 1895), in which seven 
tons of gunpowder were used, displacing 200,000 tons of granite were 
fired by Bickford's Instantaneous Fuse and Volley-firers specially made 
for these operations. 

Although belonging to a later period, it is convenient here to 
insert that one of the managing partners of the Bickford French 



BICKFORD'S SAFETY-FUSE 121 

establishments M.Jean Harle, great-grandson of Mr. Thomas Davey, 
of Tuckingmill, and grandson of Mr. Simon Davey, before referred to, 
has patented during the past year, a form of Instantaneous Fuse of an 
ingenious description, the fire-bearing material being chiefly trinitro- 
toluene, which is timed to produce a detonating speed of more than 
4,000 metres a second! This fuse is issued in single- and double-acting 
forms and various diameters. 

About the year 1880 the occurrence of several fatal explosions of 
fire-damp in British collieries called public attention to the necessity of 
reforming the means of firing charges in gaseous mines, resulting in 
the appointment of a Royal Commission of enquiry in 1881; and, 
electric firing being then still more expensive and less effective than 
now, Messrs. Bickford turned their attention to the production of a 
special article for the purpose. After previous modifications, Sir George 
Smith in 1886 patented a Colliery Fuse, warranted to burn without 
emitting laterally any flame or spark. 

The desirable complement of this fuse was obviously a means of 
igniting it without any exposed flame, and this was soon supplied by 
the Bickford Safety Lighter and Nippers (Patents of 1887) the former 
being a small metal tube covering the end of the fuse and containing 
chemical means of internal ignition; the latter, a form of pincers which 
covers the head, and by pressure actuates the means of ignition. (See 
paper read before the Manchester Geological Society, Qth January, 
1891, by James Grundy, H.M.I.M.) 

In the year 1904 the Colliery Safety-Fuse with certain pre- 
scribed modifications was officially authorized as the " Permitted 
Igniter Fuse." 

One of the latest developments in the fuse trade consists of a 
combination of electric fuses and Bickford fuses ; the first firing the 
second, which, in turn, explode the charge. This combined system 
is now in use in a few important mines in this country and Ger- 
many, and is alleged to give excellent results in the accurate timing of 
shots. 



122 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Such is the brief story of the little article which, invented in a 
remote Cornish village, solely from humanitarian motives, has become a 
primary necessity throughout the Mining World, and is now made in 
fifteen factories, distributed through many countries, by the inventor's 
descendants, and in others by their numerous imitators. 



MILITARY FIREWORKS 
BY COLONEL J. R. J. JOCELYN, (LATE) R.A. 

DURING the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, certain early 
writers on " Artillery " indulged in descriptions of various 
curious applications of explosives to warlike purposes, all of which 
may be dismissed as of no account, nothing of any importance being 
achieved until the appearance of the carcasses, light balls, and rockets 
of later times; indeed, our first native military author, one William 
Bourne, professional gunner, effectually disposed of such pretensions 
when, writing in 1578, he said: " Divers gunners and other men have 
devised sundry sorts of fireworks for the annoyance of their enemies ; 
yet as far as I have ever seen or heard, I never knew any good service 
done by it either by sea or land, but only by powder, and that has 
done great service . . . but for their other fireworks, it is rather meet 
to be used in the time of pleasure in the night than for any service." 
It is then with "pleasure fireworks," or "artificial fireworks," -feux 
d'artifice that we are mostly concerned when considering the early 
aspect of the explosives industry. " Fireworks in England," says 
Strutt, "were little spoken of previous to the reign of Elizabeth and 
seem to have been of a very trifling nature." There are, as a fact, only 
two very meagre allusions to them in the whole of Shakespeare. They 
may have been associated with those curious fire festivals of pagan 
origin, the traces of which yet remain, or plays or pageants may have 
been the source of their first employment. Thus in the " Mysteries" 
Hell or Hell-Mouth was represented by a gigantic head out of which 
flames were made to issue; and again, in the civic river procession 
which went to greet Henry VII and Elizabeth of York at their 
coronation in 1487, the Bachelors' Barge was garnished and apparelled 

123 



I2 4 

beyond all others, and carried a dragon spouting flames of fire into the 
Thames." A similar barge was also seen at the coronation of Anne 
Boleyn in 1538; it was said to contain "a great red dragon continually 
moving and casting forth wild fire and round about were terrible 
monstrous and wild men casting fire and making a hideous noise." 
The wild men wore green tunics and fantastic masks, and were known 
as "green men." Sometimes, armed with fire-clubs, they cleared the 




FIG. 31. A GREEN MAN. 
(Reproduced from " The Mysteries of Nature and Art," by John Bate, London, (634. 

way at processions, but this was at a later date. An extract from the 
City Books of 1538 may be of interest: 

" Paid to John Kellock for the charge of the foyste and a galley 
and for his service with men, shot, powder, cassocks and all other 
necessaries, ^"32 IQS. od. 

" paid and given in benevolence to the fireman or green man over 
and above his agreement, o 115-. od" 

But firework displays, properly so called, were not given in this 
country before the days of Elizabeth; that they were then a novelty 



MILITARY FIREWORKS 125 

here is apparent from a well-known contemporary romance, Barclay's 
"Angenis," in which they are spoken of as a new invention. Amongst 
the earliest of these displays was that at Warwick Castle in 1572 
when the Queen was on one of her Progresses : it was under the 
superintendence of Ambrose Dudley, Master-General of the Ordnance, 
and was carried out with no small danger to the good people of the 
town; a full description of it is preserved in the " Black Book" in the 
Warwick Archives. The effect of the Kenilworth fireworks of two 
years later upon the worthy Laneham is well known from Scott's novel, 
where his quaint letter to his friend, a citizen and merchant of London, 
is quoted in a modernized form. 

Elizabeth, no doubt, was fond of fireworks, but it was under the 
Stuarts that the provision of public or royal fireworks took tangible 
shape, and became part of the duties of the Master-Gunners and 
Gunners of the Ordnance, and in the early years of the seventeenth 
century there was quite an outbreak of pyrotechnical literature, where 
fireworks " for triumph " and for " wonder and delight " were discussed. 
These consisted of wheels, squibs, rockets, shells full of stars, then called 
" balloons," which were fired from mortars or other contrivances, and 
such-like things which are familiar to-day, but in addition there were 
other matters which claimed the attention of the Jacobean fireworker. 
He was supposed to be somewhat of a scenic artist who could devise a 
romantic background and fill it with shapes bizarre, beautiful or 
terrific. He had to make his castle, his cave or his rocky ravine, and 
people his stage with distressed damsels, errant knights or devouring 
dragons : he had also to put his figures in motion; sometimes the dragon 
or what not ran down an incline on wheels which were hidden from the 
spectator; sometimes it was suspended from a line, when motion was 
given mechanically by attaching a rocket to it ; sometimes double 
rockets were employed, which carried the figure forward and back 
again. The fireworker also had to be somewhat of a comedian who 
could devise and perform "firework combats; thus he would make for 
this purpose helmets from which flames would issue, swords and clubs 



126 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

that would scatter sparks, bucklers that when struck would give forth 
detonations, and lances with fiery points. 

On the occasion of the marriage of the daughter of James I to the 
Prince Palatine in 1613, an elaborate fete, in which most of these 
artifices were used, was devised and carried out by four of the King's 
gunners, when the Thames was blocked from Lambeth to the Temple 
to give them an uninterrupted space for their efforts ; a full account will 
be found in the Somers Tracts, vol. iii. 

From these days forward, specialists in pyrotechny became 
necessary in the Ordnance Department, and began to fill permanent 
appointments, while the art itself entered seriously into the duties of 
high-placed military officials, nor were the displays themselves without 
political importance; during the seventeenth and following centuries, 
up to quite recent times, fireworks on a grand scale were in vogue, and 
usually formed a conspicuous part of the public expression of thanks- 
giving or of triumph. 

As time went on a more refined taste rejected the bizarre features 
of the old displays; artistic merit began to creep into the designs; it 
was the object of the fireworker not only to make a noise and a blaze, 
but to introduce something appropriate to the occasion, and soon 
architectural features and emblematic figures gave national fireworks 
a grand and stately appearance. In 1650 Casimir Siemienowicz, 
Lieut. -General of the Ordnance of the King of Poland, published his 
" Great Art of Artillery," and thenceforward was regarded as the 
" father of sound and intelligent pyrobolists " ; his work may be 
regarded almost as a classic; it was translated into English by order 
of the Surveyor-General of the Ordnance as late as 1729, and in it 
will be found every detail of construction, together with accounts of 
the " performance " of famous fireworks known to the author. 

Very large sums were spent upon national fireworks, sometimes 
with a purpose. Thus says Butler in 1663: 

To set the rabble in a flame, 

And keep their governors from blame, 




FIG. 32. ' SIR WILLIAM CONGREVE, BART. 
(From a painting by T. Lonsdale, in the Royal Artillery Institution, Woolwich.) 



MILITARY FIREWORKS 129 

Dispense the news the pulpit tells, 
Confirm with fireworks and with bells. 

" Hudibras" p. iii, c. iii. 

The display for the Peace of Ryswick cost ,12,000, that for the 
Peace of Aix la Chapelle ,14,500. Prints representing the more 
important fireworks, from James II to Victoria, will be found in the 
Grace collection in the British Museum. 

In addition to the fireworks made in the Royal Laboratories, 
squibs, crackers, and small rockets were doubtless articles of commerce 
in Jacobean and Carolian times; for example, the "Water Poet" 
gives a vivid description of the hilarious doings of the citizens of 
London when Prince Charles returned safely from Spain in 1623; he 
tells us " there were excellent fireworks, with squibs, crackers, rockets, 
which most delightfully flew every way." The volatile Pepys also, 
writing some forty years later, describes how he and some of his friends 
provided themselves with an abundance of serpents and rockets, 
and took to flinging their fireworks and burning each other and the 
people over the way. Even in the case of such a sober body as the 
old Mathematical Society of London, a rule existed which imposed 
a fine of sixpence on any member who should let off fireworks in 
the place of meeting. Repressive legislation with regard to fireworks 
was introduced in 1697, and they were totally prohibited at the 
coronation of George III; the citizens had suffered from too much 
licence in regard to them; thus on a recent royal birthday a boy had 
thrown a squib and frightened a pair of carriage horses; in the 
confusion a man had been killed. At the inquest the carriage and 
horses were conveyed as a deodand to the Duke of Bedford, on whose 
property the accident had happened. The last public firework display in 
London was on the occasion of the proclamation of the peace in 1856; 
more recent displays have been confined to the ships of the Royal 
Navy. 

Carcasses containing incendiary composition, smoke-balls and light 
balls, were used in the Peninsula, and manv carcasses were fired in the 



130 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Crimea; these projectiles may now be regarded as obsolete; the light 
ball, however, has a successor in the modern star shell, which is a 
subject of present investigation. But of all fireworks ever used in 
the British Service, the Congreve rocket was in its time the most 
important. Up to quite recent times its composition was kept strictly 
secret, and, as far as is known, has never been published. Congreve 
was the developer, not the inventor of the rocket. They were used for 
the first time against Boulogne in 1806, but it was at the battle of 
Leipsic, in 1813, that they became historic; they were employed in 
the Crimea and in the Indian Mutiny, and now, as modified by Hale, 
who got rid of the stick, still exist in the Service, but would be seldom 
used. 



PLEASURE FIREWORKS 
BY PHILLIP PAIN 

AS far as fireworks in foreign countries are concerned, it is quite 
clear from various records and references in books that fireworks 
in crude forms came into use not long after the introduction of gun- 
powder. Several references are made to them in works of the fifteenth 
century. As regards England, however, the question seems obscure. 
Even here, however, from works published in 1634 and 1696, various 
popular forms of fireworks such as rockets, crackers, wheels, bombs, 
saucissons, are fully described with diagrams and methods of manu- 
facture. 

The earlier of these works, written under the initials J. B., printed 
by Thomas Harper for Ralph Mab in London in 1634, describes at 
some length how to choose and prepare the ingredients and substances 
for the making of fireworks, and gives particulars and diagrams for 
their preparation. This includes aerial fireworks (such as operate in 
the air), viz., rockets, serpents, raining, wire, stars, petards, dragons, 
gyronels, or firewheels, etc., earth fireworks, such as crackers, trunks, 
saucissons, etc., water fireworks, such as rockets, dolphins, etc. 

The illustrations of rockets and sticks are quite easily recog- 
nizable, being in most respects similar in principle to those of the 
present day. 

The method of making quick-match and stars is made quite clear. 
The dragons or rockets flying along from one end of a line to the 
other are similar to line rockets or pigeons of the present day. 

The moulds and tools for rockets, although old-fashioned, are illus- 
trated and described. One interesting passage may be transcribed as 



132 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

showing that the use and making of certain fireworks were widely 
spread : 

" How to make crackers. 

" It is well known that every boy can make these, therefore I 
think it will be but labour lost to bestow time to describe their making. 
Only this much, if you would make a cracker to give 40, 50, 100, or 
two hundred blows, one after another then binde so many crackers 
upon a stick so that the end of the one may joyne to the mouth of the 
other." 

Another work, dated 1696, by Robert Anderson, printed by 
Robert Norden at the Atlas in Cornhill, deals chiefly with the making 
of rockets, and is dedicated to Baron Hilton, Master-General of 
H. M.'s Ordnance. In the preface the writer refers to the many 
volumes great and small he had read, relating to Pyrotechnia, in his own 
and foreign languages. He describes at length the rules of rocket 
making; the mould, rolling cases, composition drivers, and other parts 
and tools of the rocket; the stars and other contents of the head, the 
sticks and how to fire them. The writer deals with the theoretical and 
practical sides of the question and states that the work is for firework 
or exhibition. Rocket making is shown by the preface in which he 
addresses himself to the problem of the making of rockets for the young 
artist at &/., is., and is. 6d. in value. That some considerable business 
in ordinary firework making was carried on at this time is clear from 
the fact that the author gives the names of certain makers of the neces- 
sary implements. 

We are told that rocket moulds were made by Mr. Guggley, just 
without Cripplegate; that taper bits for rockets were made by Mr. 
Goode, just within Cripplegate; and that rods for rockets were made 
by Mr. Stateham in Token House Yard, Lothbury: all three right 
good workmen. 

To come down to less remote times an important treatise on 
fireworks was published by Lieutenant Jones in 1760. This was a 
much more exhaustive and complete work than any of its predecessors, 



PLEASURE FIREWORKS 133 

and dealt with most kinds of fireworks, whether simple or compound, 
or set pieces. Many of these are made to-day in the same manner as 
there described. 

The diagrams, drawings, and formulae are very complete for the 
period. From internal evidence, however, it would seem that the work 
was largely taken from the French; and the illustrations, names, and 
formulae given confirm this conclusion. Moreover, the names of French 
authorities for various formulae and directions are cited on several 
pages. 

As regards the passages relating to rocket making Lieutenant 
Jones has made good use of Mr. Anderson's work, the part relating to 
the cause of rockets rising being taken word for word from the earlier 
work. Later works are largely founded on Lieutenant Jones's book, 
allowing for modifications rendered necessary by later discoveries, 
especially in relation to the use of colours in pyrotechnic effects and 
Exhibition Fireworks. Much of the matter is now rendered obsolete 
because many of the substances and materials formerly prepared by 
firework makers themselves, can to-day be purchased ready-made at 
less cost and even better in quality; a good deal of drudgery being thus 
avoided. 

For clearness of arrangement and general scope of information 
Mr. Jones's book, although largely out of date, has not yet been 
surpassed. 

As far as we are able to judge, the English makers originally learnt 
their business chiefly from the French. The English have in modern 
days, however, gone beyond their teachers and improved upon them. 
As far as the simpler forms of old-fashioned fireworks, such as rockets, 
squibs, crackers, and the like are concerned, it is quite probable that 
the English were on an equal footing with other makers. With regard, 
however, to the later developments and higher branches up to the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, a great deal was due to the French, 
who in their turn borrowed from the Italians. Many of the names and 
processes even are translated literally. 






134 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Previous to about the middle of the seventeenth century there 
seems to have been little done in the way of public firework displays 
unless in connection with events of national rejoicing. After this 
period, however, various public Gardens in London were opened, 
such as Ranelagh, Vauxhall, etc. 

The displays arranged for in these Gardens were the origin and 
forerunners of modern fireworks exhibitions and artistic displays in 
this country, which have in recent times attained so high a degree of 
perfection that English fireworks manufacturers may claim to rank as 
the first in the world. 

From works of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and con- 
temporary newspaper announcements and reports, it is clear that 
French and Italian fireworks artists (chiefly French) were regularly 
employed to give the displays exhibited in this country during the 
summer seasons over a long series of years. In fact, down to 1827 an 
anglicised French fireworks manufacturer (d'Ernst) was giving displays 
at Vauxhall. Nevertheless, the English makers were not idle, and 

O 

whilst perfecting themselves, also gave many of the displays. They 
were always good craftsmen and accurate workers, but their real 
progress dates from about 1820, after which year their improvement 
was marked, until eventually they surpassed and beat their foreign 
rivals. During the last thirty or forty years of the existence of Vaux- 
hall Gardens the displays were exclusively by Englishmen, who have 
ever since continued to improve. 

Up to the middle of the nineteenth century the great public dis- 
plays on national occasions were arranged and supervised by the 
Government authorities from Woolwich Arsenal. 

For instance, in the Peace Rejoicings, Hyde Park, 1814, the 
Coronation displays, down to the last of such public displays which was 
made on the conclusion of the Crimean War in 1856, the military 
authorities had the official supervision, but they did not disdain to 
employ, or avail themselves of, the brains and skill of English makers. 

These English makers, although competent in all other respects, 



PLEASURE FIREWORKS 135 

had, however, neither the resources nor the appliances for giving dis- 
plays on a large scale necessitating the use of hundreds of mortars, 
expensive chemicals and apparatus, gear of all kinds and a large num- 
ber of hands. To-day all this is changed and the principal English 
firms could carry out displays of any magnitude from their own unaided 
resources. 

During the last forty years, British pyrotechny has made great 
strides. It has penetrated to every country in Europe, except Russia, 
and broken down the practical monopoly formerly held by French 
firms. In the United States of America an English manufacturer is 
facile princeps in all great public displays. English firms have given 
displays in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Siam, Brazil, 
Egypt, Zanzibar, Morocco, South Africa, Jamaica, Cuba, Bermudas, 
Chili, Iquique, Argentine, West Coast of Africa, and many other places, 
embracing the chief centres of each continent. In the United Kingdom 
the results achieved have been the work of a gradual progress 
extending over a long period of years. Great advance has been made 
and new effects in set pieces, aerial works, and simple and compound 
fireworks have been produced year after year in constant succession. 
The chief British pyrotechnists are now easily first in the world 
whether in artistic effects, novelty of design and method, or magni- 
ficence and grandeur of scale. 

A great feature of modern British pyrotechny is the perfect safety 
which has been gradually and laboriously evolved in the manufacture 
and use of fireworks. Processes, compositions, and methods have been 
brought into use which have removed many dangerous features, and it 
may be said that the fine results obtained by English manufacturers 
are produced under much severer restrictions than those to which the 
continental makers, who have a freer hand as to means and methods, are 
subjected, and that a large immunity from damage to life and limb is 
enjoyed both by the \vorker and the spectator. In Italy and other 
countries compositions and methods are freely used, which, although 
well known to English makers, are now dispensed with. At first 



136 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

English makers were severely hampered by being thus compelled to 
abandon unsafe methods; but it may be truthfully said they are now 
reaping the advantage. This is the opportunity for adding a word 
regarding the Explosives Department of the Home Office. Since 
the passing of the Explosives Act in 1875, great improvements in 
safety have been made, and under the enlightened administration of 
this department, by the broad-minded, tactful and sympathetic inspectors 
originally appointed and their successors, the industry has generally 
greatly benefited. 



LEGISLATION 
BY E. A. BRAYLEY HODGETTS 

TT /'RITERS on explosives have expatiated with justice on the 
V V contempt and loathing akin to horror with which gunpowder 
was regarded by the knights of old, who felt for it an instinctive 
hatred, very much as the expert sailor hated steam, and for much 
the same reason. By the introduction of gunpowder the spirit of 
chivalry received its death-blow, it died slowly and died hard, but its 
final overthrow was predestined. The armoured knight with sword and 
lance, mounted on his armoured charger and attended by his esquires 
and indifferently equipped retainers, became an anachronism, the entire 
feudal system collapsed, for the aristocratic principle, on which it was 
based, had been undermined. The superior prowess of an individual 
or a caste, on which rested the theory of society called feudalism, 
lost importance; hence to give lands and influence as a reward of 
personal valour and skill in arms, ceased to have a rational justification. 
Artillery and volley-firing made the solitary knight in armour as 
ridiculous and helpless as Cervantes made Don Quixote. The finest 
swordsman ever trained in the courts of chivalry could be laid low by 
a bullet from the gun of the merest yokel. Gunpowder was the great 
leveller in more senses than one, and while it made possible a return to 
the scientific warfare of the ancients, it helped to break down the 
social restrictions of the middle ages and to prepare the way for the 
democracy of to-day which has triumphantly permeated every modern 
civilized state without regard to the prevalent system of government. 

Politicians owe a greater debt of gratitude to the evolution of the 
use and application of explosives than they care to acknowledge. While 
the unreflecting are prone to lament the invention of what they glibly 

137 



138 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

call wholesale means of destruction, the future historian will dilate on 
the benefits which these have conferred. 

However, every change and every improvement usually brings 
some difficulties and inconveniences in its train. In the chapter devoted 
to the history of gunpowder we have seen how great a grievance 
and nuisance to the public the saltpetre men had become, and presently 
we shall find public opinion exercised by the danger resulting from 
explosions of stores or powder-magazines, and later even more alarmed 
by the explosion of mills and factories. There is a Russian proverb to 
the effect that people who like to ride in sledges must be prepared to 
take a hand at drawing them, and another which wisely recommends 
those who fear wolves to refrain from frequenting forests; but such 
fatalistic philosophy has never found acceptance with the practical spirit 
of British public opinion; our legislature, with indomitable optimism, 
again and again attempts the impossible, and even endeavours to 
reconcile opposing and incompatible interests in a spirit of wise and 
charitable compromise. Thus we constantly find the interests of the 
state at variance with the comfort and convenience of the individual, 
and in its practical efforts to remedy abuses, Parliament has not infre- 
quently to contradict itself in quite a perplexing, though to us, at this 
distance of time, not an entirely unentertaining manner. As we proceed 
in our review of the Acts dealing with Gunpowder which Parliament 
has from time to time passed, our meaning will become clearer, and 
the admirable intentions of our legislators brought into full relief. 

The earliest Act of Parliament dealing with gunpowder that we 
have been able to trace was passed in the sixteenth year of Charles I 
(1641), and establishes the principle of absolute free trade in this com- 
modity. It is entitled an " Act for the free bringing in of Gunpowder 
and Salt Petre from Forraign parts and for the free making of Gun- 
powder in this Realme." The preamble sets forth that " Whereas the 
importation from forraign parts hath of late times beene against Law 
prohibited and the making thereof within this Realme ingrossed whereby 
the price of Gunpowder hath beene excessively raised many powder 



LEGISLATION 139 

makers decayed this Kingdom very much weakened and indangered 
the Merchants thereof much damnified many Mariners and others 
taken Prisoners and taken into miserable Captivity and Slavery many 
Ships taken by Turkish and other Pirates and many other incon- 
veniences have thence ensued and more are likely to ensue if they be 
not timely prevented : " the Act then goes on to say: 

" Be it therefore declared and enacted by the King's most Excel- 
lent Majestic and the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament 
assembled and by the Authoritie of the same that it shall and may be 
lawfull to and for all and singular persons as well strangers as naturall 
born subjects of this Realme to import and bring into this Kingdom 
any quantities of Gunpowder whatsoever paying such Customs and 
Duties for the same as by Authority of Parliament shall be limited and 
set downe, 

"And be it further Declared and Enacted by the Authority afore- 
said that it shall and may be lawfull to and for all and singular His 
Majestie's subjects of this His Realme of England to make and sell 
any quantities of Gunpowder at his and their will and pleasure and 
alsoe to bring into His Kingdom any quantities of Salt Petre Brimstone 
or any other Materialls necessary or requisite for the making of 
Gunpowder. 

" And lastly be it enacted by the authority (aforesaid) that if any 
person or persons from and after loth August 1641 shall put into 
execution any Letter Patents Proclamation Edict Act Order Warrant 
Restraint or any other Inhibition whatsoever whereby the Importation 
of Gunpowder Salt Petre Brimstone or other Materialls or any of them 
from Forraign parts or the making of Salt Petre within this Realme 
shall be any way prohibited or restrained that then the said person or 
persons so offending shall incurre and sustain the pains penalties and 
forfeitures contained and provided in the Statute of provisions and 
premunire made in 16 Richard II." 

This Act may therefore be regarded as repealing the various 
monopolies, licences and proclamations under James I. 



140 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Nevertheless, and in spite of this Act, the famous Long Parlia- 
ment ordered, on the 3rd December, 1642, "that neither the Commis- 
sioners of Customes nor any other Officer or servant of the Customhouse 
within the City of London, take any Entries, or passe any Warrants for 
Gunpowder, to be exported without warrant from the greater part of the 
Committee of Citizens appointed to take care for that Commodity, and 
that no Carrier, Waggoner, Watchman, Wharfinger, or other person 
whatsoever shal carry or convey out, or suffer to be carried or conveyed 
out any Gunpowder to any place without warrant from both Houses of 
Parliament or of the Committee of Lords and Commons for safety of the 
Kingdome, or of the Lord General, or of the said Committee of Citizens 
before mentioned." The Committee of Citizens was, by another order 
of the same date, authorized "to enquire, search, and examine, what 
quantities of Gunpowder is, or shall be in the hands of any Merchants, 
Ship-chandlers, Grocers, Societies or Companies, or any others ... as 
likewise to seize upon whatsoever Gunpowder shall be so found for the 
use of the Parliament." 

After the Restoration, in the twelfth year of Charles II (1672), a 
general free trade Act (Chapter 4) was passed in which gunpowder is 
specially included in the following passage: 

" And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid that it shall 
and may be lawfull immediately after the passing of this Act for any 
person or persons to ship carry out and transport by way of merchan- 
dize these severall sorts of Goods following that is to say Gun-powder 
when the same doth not exceed the price of ^5 the Barrell. . . . Pro- 
vided always that it shall be free and lawfull for His Majesty at any 
time when he shall see cause to doe, and for such time as shall be 
therein expressed by Proclamation to prohibit the (Transportation) of 
the powder or any sort of Arms and Ammunition into any parts out of 
the Kingdom. Anything in this Act contained to the contrary notwith- 
standing." 

But here the king reserves himself the right of prohibiting traffic 
in Gunpowder and Arms and Ammunition. 



LEGISLATION 141 

In the first year of James II (1685), however, an Act was passed 
" Against the Importation of Gunpowder Arms and other Ammunitions 
of War." This quaintly worded Act sets forth: 

"Whereas to the great Prejudice of this Kingdom and the Dis- 
couragement and Impoverishment of the Gunsmiths and other Artificers 
great quantities of Arms and Ammunition have of late yeares beene 
Imported to the endangering of the Peace and quiet of this Kingdome. 

" For Remedy whereof Be it enacted by The Kings most Excel- 
lent Majestic by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords 
Spirituall and Temperall and the Commons in this present Parlyament 
Assembled and by the Authoritie of the same that it shall not at any 
Time from and after the loth July 1685 be lawfull to or for any person 
or persons whatsoever without Licence from His Majestic His Heires 
and Successors to Import or bring into this Kingdom of England 
Dominion of Wales or Town of Berwicke upon Tweede by way of 
Merchandize any Gunpowder Arms Ammunition or Utensils of Warr 
upon Paine and Forfeiture of all and every that Goods be I mported as 
aforesaid to His Majestie His Heires and Successors and the person 
or persons who shall soe Import or bring in the same or in whose 
Custodie any such Gunpowder Arms Ammunition or Utensils of Warr 
shall be found being hereof lawfully Convicted shall forfeit Trible the 
Value of the Goods so Imported One moyety thereof unto His Majestie 
His Heires and Successors, and the other to such person or persons 
who will sue for the same by Action of Debt Bill Plaint or Information 
in any of H. M. Courts of Record at Westminster wherein noe Essoigne 
Protection or Wager of Law shall be allowed. 

" Provided always that if any person or persons whatsoever Bodyes 
Politique or Corporate shall by colour of this Act or otherwise obtain 
from H. M. His Heires or Successors any Letters Patents Licence or 
Grant for the sole Making or Importing any Gunpowder, Arms Am- 
munition or other Utensills of War and shall putt the same in execution 
or by whom henceof molest or hinder any person or persons who law- 
fully make any of the things before mentioned in this Kingdom or shall 



142 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

obtain any Letters Patent Licence or Grant for the Importing of Gun- 
powder Arms Ammunition or other Utensills of Warr by way of 
Merchandize to make Profit thereof other than for the immediate 
furnishing of the Publique Stores of H. M. His Heires or Successors 
that then the person or persons so offending shall incurr and sustaine 
the Paine Penalties and Forfeitures contained and provided in the 
Statute of Provision and Premunire made 16 King Richard II and be 
disabled to hold any Office or Imployment under His Majestic His 
Heires and Successors and all and every such Letters Licence Patent 
and Grant and every of them for the sole Making and Importing the 
said Commodities shall be void to all Intents and Purposes as if the 
same had never beene had or had or made Any Clause of Non obstante 
or other Provision or Covenant to the contrary thereof in any wise 
notwithstanding." 

The next legislative measure is 9 and 10 William III (1698-9), 
c. 7, which is an Act to prohibit the throwing and firing of " Squibbes 
Serpents or other Fireworks." 

But it is not until the reign of George I that we come across 
any serious attempt at a measure at all resembling in its scope and 
purport the more recent Explosives Act. Hitherto we have seen that 
gunpowder was regarded by the legislature solely from the point of 
view of the needs of the state, the convenience of the public is but 
indirectly and incidentally alluded to. The Act passed in the fifth year 
of George I (1719) is, however, an "Act for Preventing the Mischiefs 
which may happen by keeping too great Quantities of Gunpowder in or 
near the Cities of London and Westminster, or the Suburbs thereof." 

The Act sets forth that : 

" Whereas great Quantities of Gunpowder are frequently Lodged 
and Kept in Warehouses and other Places in and about the Cities of 
London and Westminster, and the suburbs thereof, to the apparent 
Danger, if not utter Ruin and Destruction of several Publick Offices, 
and of the Lives and Fortunes of many Thousands of his Majesties 
Subjects:" 



LEGISLATION 143 

For preventing- these mischiefs it was enacted: 

That from and after the first day of August, 1719 it shall not be 
Lawful for any Person or Persons to have or keep more than Six hundred 
Pounds of Gunpowder, each Hundred containing Fivescore Pounds 
Net Weight, at any time, in any Storehouse, Warehouse, or other 
Place, within the Cities of London and Westminster, or either of them, 
or within the Suburbs thereof, or within Three Miles of the Tower of 
London, or within Three Miles of His Majesties Palace at St. James's 
or within Two Miles of any Magazine now Erected for Keeping Gun- 
powder, belonging to His Majestic, His Heirs or Successors, for the 
Use of the Publick." 

Further, from and after the ist August, 1719, it was made Lawful 
" for any Two or more of His Majesties Justices of the Peace, living 
within any of the Limits aforesaid, to Summon before them any Person 
or Persons, Making, Dealing, or Trading in Gunpowder, or who shall 
be suspected to have in his or their Custody or Possession, or in the 
Custody or Possession of any other Person or Persons, in any Store- 
house, Warehouse, or other Place, within the Limits aforesaid, and to 
Examine such Person or Persons upon Oath touching the Premisses, 
and in case of Refusal to be examined, to Commit such Person or 
Persons to the County-Gaol, there to remain without Bail, or Main- 
prize, until he, she, or they shall conform or submit to Answer, and be 
examined as aforesaid, and if it shall appear upon such Examination 
or by the Oaths of any Two or more Credible Witnesses, (which 
Oaths such Justices are hereby Impowered and Required to Administer) 
that such Person or Persons have or hath in his, her or their Custody 
or Possession, at any one Place- within the Limits aforesaid, more than 
Six hundred Pounds of Gunpowder, as aforesaid, such Justices shall 
forthwith cause all and every the Persons aforesaid carefully to Remove 
the same out of the Limits aforesaid, and if such Person or Persons 
shall refuse or neglect to Remove such Gunpowder out of the Limits 
aforesaid, by the Space of Twenty four Hours after Notice of any 
order made by any such Justices for Removal thereof, every such 



i 4 4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Person or Persons so offending, shall, for every such Offence, forfeit the 
Sum of Twenty Shillings for every hundred pound of Gunpowder, 
with full Costs of Suit, to any Person or Persons who shall, within Six 
Calendar Months next after such Notice, Inform or Sue for the Same, 
by Action of Debt, Bill, Plaint, or Information, in any of His Majesties 
Courts of Record at Westminster, wherein no Essoign, Privilege, 
Protection, Order of Restraint, Wager of Law, or more than One 
Importance shall be granted or allowed." 

It was further enacted " That it shall be Lawfull for any Two or 
more of His Majesties Justices of Peace, living within the Limits 
aforesaid, after ist August, 1719, from time to time, to Issue their 
Warrant or Warrants for Searching in the Day-time any Storehouse, 
Warehouse, or other Place, Used for Keeping Gunpowder within the 
Limits aforesaid, and for the purpose to Break open any such Store- 
house, Warehouse, or other place aforesaid, if there shall be occasion, 
and that every Person who shall Oppose or Hinder any such Search, 
shall, for every such Offence, Forfeit the Sum of Five Pounds to any 
Person or Persons who shall Inform and Sue for the same within Six 
Calendar Months next after the Offence Commited, in any of His 
Majesties Courts of Record at Westminster, by Action of Debts Bill, 
Plaint, or Information, wherein no Essoign, Privilege, Protection, Order 
of Restraint, Wager of Law, or more than one Imparlance shall be 
granted or allowed." In the case of more than 600 Ib. of gunpowder 
being found, Justices shall "forthwith cause the same to be carefully 
removed out of the Limits aforesaid, at the Charge of the Owner or 
Owners of such Gunpowder, or other Person or Persons having the 
Custody or Keeping thereof, to be Levyed by Distress and Sale of the 
Offenders Goods and Chattels, by Warrant under the Hands and Seals 
of such Justices, rendring the Overplus to the Owner." 

The Act contains provisions " for Preventing Dangerous Car- 
riages of Gunpowder in and through the Streets of London and 
Westminster and the suburbs thereof" not more than 2,000 Ib. of 
gunpowder, each 100 Ib. containing " Fivescore Pounds Net Weight " 



LEGISLATION 145 

being allowed to be carried or conveyed in or through any of the 
streets or lanes of London and Westminster and their suburbs at a 
time, and all such gunpowder was to " be Carried in Covered Carts or 
Carriages, and the Barrels in which such Gunpowder is Carried shall 
be close Joynted and hooped, and shall be put into Bags or Cases of 
Leather or Canvass; and Gunpowder Carried by Man or Horse shall 
be put into Cases of Leather or Canvass, and entirely Covered there- 
with, so as that no such Gunpowder be Spilt or Scattered in the Passage 
thereof," any gunpowder carried or conveyed in any greater quantity 
or in any other manner to be forfeited, " and shall and may be Seized by 
any Person or Persons to his or their own Use and Benefit, the Person 
or Persons so offending being thereof lawfully Convicted before Two 
Justices of the Peace." 

This Act did not extend to Government Stores or Magazines or to 
the carriage of "Gunpowder to or from any of His Majesties' Magazines, 
or with Forces in their Marches." 

The Act, however, recognized the possible necessity of erecting 
new warehouses for keeping gunpowder outside the stipulated limits 
but at a convenient distance from the City of London, " from whence 
sufficient Quantities of Gunpowder may with greater Safety be Supplied 
as occasion requires," and points out that there are " large Tracts of 
Marsh and Meadow Grounds in the Counties of Essex, Kent and 
Surrey, where New Warehouses may be commodiously Erected, such 
Marsh and Meadow Grounds being at Good Distance from Dwelling 
Houses or Habitations, and therefore, and by reason of their Adjacency 
to the River Thames, are convenient for such Warehouses," but as 
persons desirous to erect such warehouses " may be liable to 
Actions or Disturbances on that Account, or may be unreasonably 
Imposed upon in the Purchase thereof," the Justices of the Peace for 
the Counties of Essex, Kent, and Surrey were empowered to appoint 
at their General Quarter-Sessions " some proper and convenient Plot 
or Plots of Ground out of the Limits aforesaid, not exceeding Two 
Acres in any one Place in each County " and adjacent to or near the 

L 



146 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

river Thames, on which it shall be lawful to erect warehouses for 
keeping gunpowder, first agreeing with the owner and proprietors of 
the said ground for the same ; in case of refusal or neglect to agree, 
the Justices of the Peace shall impannel a sufficient Jury to inquire 
into the true value of the ground, and the judgments and decrees of 
the Justices thereupon shall be final and conclusive to all parties. 
The sums of money to be assessed, not exceeding thirty years' purchase, 
shall be paid to the respective proprietors of the ground. " All other 
Warehouses for Gunpowder, which shall be erected on or near the 
River Thames, shall be Built and Secured, from time to time, in such 
manner as shall be Prescribed and Directed by the Principal Officers 
of His Majesties Ordnance." 

By this Act all " Leases, Covenants, Articles and Agreements 
Made or Entred into" of any warehouses or storehouses within the 
Cities of London and Westminster and its suburbs are annulled. 

Six years later it was found necessary to amend this Act, and so 
in the eleventh year of George I (1725) an Act was passed "for 
making more Effectual an Act passed in the Fifth Year of His 
Majesty's Reign, Intituled, An Act for preventing the Mischiefs, 
which may happen by keeping too great Quantities of Gunpowder in 
or near the Cities of London and Westminster, or the Suburbs 
thereof." From the preamble of which it appears that "since the 
making of the said Act many Dealers in Gunpowder, and others, have 
divided their Houses and Warehouses into several small partitions or 
Apartments, and there keep great Quantities of Gunpowder, whereby 
and by other Evil and Indirect Means and Practices the good Designs 
of the said Act are notoriously eluded and evaded, to the apparent 
Danger of several Publick Offices, and the Lives and Fortunes of 
many Thousands of Your Majesty's Subjects." It was moreover felt 
to be necessary "for Publick Safety to lessen the Quantity of Gun- 
powder allowed by the said Act to be kept within the Limits 
aforesaid." This second Act therefore provides that after ist June, 
1725, it shall not be lawful to have or keep within the limits aforesaid, 



LEGISLATION 147 

more than 200 Ib. of gunpowder at any time in any house, storehouse, 
warehouse, shop, cellar, or other place, under one or the same roof, or 
in any yard or yards, within the limits aforesaid, for more than the 
space of twenty-four hours, upon pain of forfeiting all such gunpowder, 
and the value thereof, with full costs of suit, to any person who will 
inform and sue for the same. The Justices of the Peace authorized to 
issue warrants of search after dangerous quantities of gunpowder, were 
compelled upon demand made by any parish officer, or by any two or 
more householders, to issue such warrants gratis. Upon such search it 
was lawful for the searchers to seize and remove within twelve hours all 
gunpowder found within the limits aforesaid, exceeding the quantities 
allowed. Every person wilfully hindering such seizure to forfeit ^5 to 
the Informer. 

A very important provision is the " preventing the dangerous Use 
of Iron Hammers, or Hammers Shod or Plated with Iron or Steel, in 
any Warehouse or other Place, used for keeping Gunpowder." Any 
person presuming to work with such a hammer, in any warehouse or 
place, while gunpowder is there, shall, for every such offence, forfeit 
twenty shillings to the Informer, to be levied (in case of non-payment) 
by distress and sale of the offender's goods and chattels by warrant and 
for want of sufficient distress, every such offender shall be sent to the 
House of Correction, there to be kept to hard labour for not more 
than one month, nor less than fourteen days. 

Under George II further progress was made, and in 1732, the 
fifth year of that monarch's reign, an Act was passed for " the better 
regulation and government of pilots licensed by the Corporation of 
Trinity House of Deptford Strond in the County of Kent and to 
prevent mischiefs and annoyances upon the river of Thames below 
London Bridge," which contained a stipulation to the effect that: " No 
Master or Commander of any ship or other vessel whatsoever outward 
bound, shall receive, or cause or permit to be received, on board any 
such ship or vessel any gunpowder either as merchandize, or as store, or 
ammunition for the voyage (except for His Majesty's Service), before 



148 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

such ship or vessel shall be at, over against, or below Blackwall, upon 
pain of forfeiting for every 50 Ib. weight of gunpowder to be so 
shipped or received on Board such ship or vessel the sum of ^5, and 
so in proportion for a greater or lesser quantity." 

The Act also made it compulsory on " the master or commander 
of every ship or vessel coming into the River Thames " to " land or put 
on shore or cause to be landed and put on shore, all the powder on 
board such ship or vessel " either before its arrival at Blackwall or 
within twenty-four hours, weather permitting, after casting anchor there, 
or at " the place of her unloading," under a similar penalty. 

In the same year an Act was passed by the Parliament of Ireland 
(5 George II, c. 12) against the throwing of fireworks. 

Two further Acts were passed in the i5th and 22nd years of 
the reign of George II (1742 and 1749) "for preventing mischiefs 
which may happen" by keeping gunpowder; the first, referring only 
to the Cities of London and Westminster; the latter, a general Act 
including carriage as well. 

In 1771, the eleventh year of George III, an Act was passed for 
reducing into one Act of Parliament the several laws relating to the 
keeping and carriage of gunpowder, and for more effectually preventing 
mischiefs by keeping or carrying gunpowder in too great quantities. 

This legislative Act very honestly admits in its preamble that 
" the several Acts which regulate the keeping and carriage of gun- 
powder in England" were defective and required amendment; and 
wisely sets forth that " the reducing them into one law would facilitate 
their execution." The preamble also states that " there is no regula- 
tion for the keeping and carriage of gunpowder in Scotland." By this 
Act dealers were not allowed to keep in one place and at any one time 
more than 200 Ib. of gunpowder, and private persons not more than 
50 Ib., " any river or other water " being included in the word place. 
" Carriages loading or unloading or passing on the land," and " ships, 
boats or vessels loading or unloading, or passing on any river or other 
water, or detained there by the tide or bad weather," being expressly 



LEGISLATION 149 

excepted. Such storage of gunpowder is however permitted " within 
the following limits " only: " Within the Cities of London and West- 
mister, or within three miles of either of them ; or within any City, 
Borough or Market Town of Great Britain, or within one mile of the 
same; or within two miles of any palace or house of residence of the 
King or his successors, or of the Queen Dowager, the Queen Consort 
or any further queens," or within one mile of any gunpowder magazine 
belonging to His Majesty, his heirs or successors, or within half a mile 
of any Parish Church; or in any other part of Great Britain," except in 
such places specially provided for by the Act, where unlimited quan- 
tities may be kept. The penalties are the "forfeiting of all the gun- 
powder in specie beyond the quantity hereby allowed to be kept, and 
the barrels in which such Gunpowder shall be, and also one Shilling 
for every pound of Gunpowder beyond such allowed quantity." 

The Act prohibits the carriage within Great Britain of " more than 
2,000 Ib. of Gunpowder in any waggon, cart, or other carriage, by land 
or more than 5,000 Ib. of Gunpowder in any barge, boat, or other 
vessel, by water (except in vessels with gunpowder on board imported 
from or to be exported to any place beyond sea) ; and all gunpowder 
conveyed " in this manner, except for import and export, " shall be in 
barrels close joined and hooped without any iron about them, and so 
secured that no part of the gunpowder be scattered in the passage, and 
each barrel shall contain no more than 100 Ib. of Gunpowder; and 
when conveyed by land, shall be entirely enclosed in a leather bag, or a 
bag commonly called a Salt-petre bag; and every carriage or vessel 
(except such vessels as aforesaid), in which gunpowder shall be 
conveyed by land or water, shall have a compleat covering of wood, 
painted-cloth, tarpaulin, or wadmill-tilts, over all that part ... in which 
the gunpowder barrels shall be placed." 

The Act provides for the right of search, and expressly stipulates 
that no person shall be liable to any penalty under it until the expira- 
tion of six calendar months after judgment, following upon a complaint 
lodged by a householder of the parish or place. 



150 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Lessees of magazines for unlimited quantities of gunpowder may 
terminate their Agreements by three months' notice. No outward 
bound vessel shall carry more than 25 Ib. of gunpowder before reaching 
Blackwall. 

This Act, which came in force on the ist August, 1771, repealed: 
Act 5, George I, Act n, George I, the clause referring to gunpowder 
in 5 George II, and Acts 15 and 22 of George II. 

The first Act of Parliament affecting the manufacture of gun- 
powder was passed on the 22nd January, 1772, and came into force on 
the ist July of the same year. It is chap. 61, n George III, and is 
entitled: "An Act to regulate the making, keeping and carnage of 
gunpowder, within Great Britain and to repeal the Laws heretofore 
made for any of those purposes." 

To judge by the preamble this Act would seem to be a sort of 
legislative afterthought, for it states that : " Whereas the manufacture 
of Gunpowder within Great Britain, though necessary to be encouraged 
in respect of the Value of Gunpowder as an article of defence and 
commerce, yet ought to be regulated by law in order to prevent the 
great mischiefs which may arise from explosions occasioned by the 
improper construction and use of the mills, engines, and buildings, 
employed in the making of Gunpowder, and for keeping and carrying 
Gunpowder in too great quantities, or in an improper manner : and 
whereas the Act passed in the last session of Parliament" contained 
no such provisions, and was moreover defective, " the said is repealed." 

This new Act provides : " That no person or persons shall use, or 
cause to be used any mill or mills or other engine or engines for the 
making of Gunpowder, or in any manner manufacture Gunpowder" 
except where such manufacture is actually being carried on, " or where 
it shall afterwards become lawful to carry on such manufacture by 
obtaining a licence for that purpose, under the provisions hereinafter 
contained." The penalty being the forfeiture of all the powder 
manufactured contrary to law, and two shillings per pound fine. 

The Act then goes on to prohibit the use of stamp mills, " com- 



LEGISLATION 151 

monly called a pestle-mill," and provides that no more than 40 Ib. of 
gunpowder shall be manufactured at one time or " under any single 
pair of Mill Stones." Fine " fowling gunpowder," known and 
" distinguished by the name of Battle Powder," manufactured by the 
powder mills " erected in the Parishes of Battle, Crowhurst, Seddels- 
comb and Brede in the County of Sussex," being specially exempt 
from the operation of the Act. 

No person is allowed to "dry or cause to be dried at any one 
time, in any one stove or place, used for the drying of Gunpowder, any 
quantity of gunpowder exceeding 40 cwt." 

The keeping " in any corning-house, drying-house, dusting-house or 
other place, etc. (except magazines or store-houses constructed with 
stone or brick, and situated 50 yards at least from the Mill or Mills), 
any greater quantity of gunpowder than shall be necessary for the 
immediate work then carrying on " is also prohibited. 

Manufacturers shall " besides the Magazine or Magazines and 
store-houses near their Mills, have or provide a good and sufficient 
Magazine or Magazines remote from their respective mills for the 
purpose of safe-keeping " the manufactured article, as soon as this can 
be "conveniently removed thereto." These magazines "shall be well 
and substantially built with brick or stone near the River Thames and 
below Blackwall or in some other convenient place to be licensed by 
the Justices of the Peace." The penalty for not having such a magazine 
is 2$ per month. The legislators of those days, not being unreason- 
able, provided that Justices of the Peace should, upon application at 
Quarter Sessions, "appoint proper and convenient pieces of ground 
with the use of convenient roads thereto " for the erection of magazines, 
seeing that manufacturers failing to erect the same were subject to 
penalties, and that " in some cases they may not be able to agree for 
the purchase of pieces of ground proper for such magazines." No char- 
coal to be kept within 20 yards of any mill. In this Act, while dealers 
may not keep more than 200 Ib. of powder, collieries are expressly 
allowed to store as much as 300 Ib. within 200 yards of the colliery. 



152 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

The steps to be taken before a licence for such mills can be 
obtained are laid down at length, and are calculated to afford the public 
ample protection. Petitioners who are refused a licence by the Court 
of Quarter Sessions may appeal to the King's Bench. 

Persons smoking on board vessels carrying gunpowder are liable 
to a fine of ^5, and persons protracting time in loading or unloading 
powder by land or water to a penalty of ^"10. 

This Act especially exempted from its operation any mills or 
buildings existing or future on land belonging to the King, neither was 
it to extend to the keeping of gunpowder at any royal magazine, or to 
hinder the trial of gunpowder by His Majesty's officers, " or to the 
Keeping of Gunpowder at the Magazines now erected for that 
purpose, of Barking, Creeksmouth in the County of Essex and Erith 
Level in the County of Kent, or to the Keeping of Gunpowder at the 
Magazines or Storehouses now erected near Liverpoole in the County 
of Lancaster, or the City of Bristol, or to the carriage of Gunpowder to 
or from the King's Magazine under an express order of the King's 
Board of Ordnance; such order to contain the quantity of Gunpowder 
so to be carried and the time for which such order shall be in force ; or 
to the carriage of Gunpowder with forces on their march, or with the 
Militia during their annual exercise, or which shall be sent for the use 
of such forces of Militia." 

This part of the Act was repealed in the 14 and 15 Victoria, cap. 67 
(7th August, 1851), the magazines at Liscard being abolished, and 
" The Lord High Admiral, or the Commissioners for the Time being 
for executing the Office of Lord High Admiral" being empowered, 
" with the approval of the Master General of Her Majesty's Ordnance, 
and of the Commissioners for the Conservancy of the River Mersey," 
to appoint suitable places for mooring vessels or floating magazines in 
that river. The Master General of Ordnance to appoint an Officer to 
enforce such regulations as the Board of Ordnance may deem necessary. 
The Corporation of Liverpool to pay the lessees of the Liscard magazine 
the sum of ,9,780. 



LEGISLATION 153 

By the Acts 2 and 3 Victoria, cap. 47, and 9 and 10 Victoria, cap. 25, 
powers were given to every superintendent or inspector of police of the 
metropolis " to search vessels in the river Thames and the Docks and 
Creeks adjacent thereto," and " for any Justice of the Peace to issue a 
warrant for searching in the daytime any place or vessel in which 
gunpowder or other explosive dangerous or noxious substance is 
suspected to be made or kept for the purpose of being used in com- 
mitting an offence." 

In 1855, 18 and 19 Victoria, cap. 117, an Act was passed for 
" transferring to one of H. M. Principal Secretaries of State the Powers 
and Estates Vested in the Principal Officers of the Ordnance," the 
secretary in question to be H. M. Principal Secretary of State for the 
War Department. 

It was not until 1860 (23 and 24 Victoria, cap. 139) that the first 
Gunpowder Act of the last century was passed. This contains a 
number of regulations for the manufacture and keeping of gunpowder, 
among which there is the first provision for protection against lightning, 
every maker of gunpowder being enjoined to " cause to be erected or 
provided good and sufficient thunder rods or lightning conductors in con- 
nexion with every Store Magazine where Gunpowder is kept by him." 

The Act also provides regulations to be " observed with regard 
to the manufacture of loaded percussion caps, and the manufacture 
and keeping of Ammunition, fireworks, fulminating mercury or any 
other preparation or composition of an explosive nature; and makes it 
lawful for Justices of the Peace in quarter Sessions to licence places 
for the manufacture and storage of such articles and to grant licences 
to persons to sell fireworks." The Act recapitulates nearly all the 
provisions of the earlier Acts, especially with regard to carriage, etc. 
This is "the Gunpowder Act, 1860." 

In the following sessions of Parliament, 24 and 25 Victoria, cap. 130 
(1861), the licensing power is transferred from Justices of the Peace at 
their General Quarter Sessions to Justices in Petty Sessions assembled, 
and special reference is for the first time made to safety fuses. 



154 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

There is nothing in the " Gunpowder Act Amendment Act, 1862," 
25 and 26 Victoria, cap. 98, that calls for special reference, beyond the 
substitution of Police Magistrates for Justices as licensing authorities 
in Ireland, nor do the succeeding Acts, passed respectively in 1865 and 
1866, require mention. 

An Act was passed in 28 and 29 Victoria, cap. 278 (The Liverpool 
Gunpowder Regulation, etc., Act, 1865), authorizing the Corporation 
of Liverpool to make Bye-laws regulating the transit of gunpowder 
from the vessels in the Mersey to the magazines and the carriage of 
gunpowder in the borough. 

"The Carriage and Deposit of dangerous Goods Act, 1866" 
(29 and 30 Victoria, cap. 69), is the first to deal with nitro-glycerine or 
glonoine oil, which is thereby declared " to be specially dangerous," and 
is ordered to be so marked on each package. Nitro-glycerine also-came 
under the operation of 25 and 26 Victoria, cap. 66 (1862), an Act "for 
the safe keeping of Petroleum." 

The Nitro-glycerine Act of 1869, 32 and 33 Victoria, cap. 113, 
stands by itself; it prohibits the importation of nitro-glycerine because 
the carriage and conveyance of this article had "been found to be 
attended with great risk and danger to the lives and property of H.M.'s 
subjects." In this Act nitro-glycerine is also defined as glonoine oil, 
and the Act extends to every substance having nitro-glycerine in any 
form or as one of its component parts or ingredients. Any person 
bringing into any port or harbour of the United Kingdom, or shipping 
or unshipping on, from or near the coasts of the United Kingdom, any 
nitro-glycerine, shall be liable to imprisonment, with or without hard 
labour, for a term not exceeding one year, or to a fine of not more than 
^500, the nitro-glycerine being forfeited. One of H.M.'s Principal 
Secretaries of State was, however, empowered to authorize the 
importation or export by general or special licence of any substance 
having nitro-glycerine in any form as one of its component parts or 
ingredients, provided it could be shown to his satisfaction that the 
same could be safely handled. 



LEGISLATION 155 

No person was allowed to manufacture, sell, carry or otherwise 
dispose of or have in his possession any nitro-glycerine in any part of 
the United Kingdom except in accordance with a general or special 
licence issued by one of H.M.'s Principal Secretaries of State. 

The above is a brief recapitulation of the legislative measures 
passed in this country in connection with explosives prior to the epoch- 
making Explosives Act of 1875, f which the two Gunpowder Acts of 
George III and Queen Victoria, of 1771 and 1860 respectively, were 
the direct precursors. 

But the Gunpowder Act of 1860 had many defects, the most 
serious of which no doubt was the difficulty of enforcing its provisions. 
Public attention was first directed to this subject by the now historical 
explosion on ist October, 1864, at Erith, which resulted in much loss 
of life and destruction of property within a radius of ten miles, and led 
to the presentation of a Memorial by the inhabitants of the neighbour- 
hood to Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary, pointing out that 
existing legislative enactments regulating the manufacture and handling 
of gunpowder were inadequate, and praying for the appointment of a 
special commission of inquiry. At the same time, or rather exactly 
one week before the date of the Memorial, Colonel Moody, Commanding 
R.E. at Chatham, made his report to the Horse Guards upon the state 
of the embankment at Erith and the powder magazines in the neigh- 
bourhood. This report is so interesting that we may be pardoned for 
giving the following extracts. Colonel Moody says : " My inspection 
revealed to me a condition of affairs in respect to the existing magazines 
in the neighbourhood that, I submit, necessitates the immediate con- 
sideration and action of Government. I found the magazines uniformly 
built as close as possible to the river bank ; in fact partly on the inner 
slope of the embankment. The doors of the magazines fronting straight 
to the river, doors, stage with tramways, and the jetty all in a direct 
line." All these were neither roofed, closed nor guarded. While the 
stage and door of each magazine were on the same level as the top of 
the embankment, along which a public thoroughfare, free and open, 



156 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

passed at a distance of two yards from the door of the magazine. He 
found one of these doors open without anybody in charge. A man 
actually passed smoking his pipe, and boys were in the habit of selling 
matches " from open door to door of the magazine." Steamers passed 
within moderate distance of the river bank, sparks streaming from the 
funnels. Sparks were also emitted from the chimneys of a number of 
adjacent factories. We will spare our readers minor details such as 
grit on the stage, " pitched " wooden tramway rails, and the presence 
of straw, dry grass, and pieces of loose paper. There were beds of 
reeds close to the doors; when the reeds were cut down the stubble 
was frequently set fire to, in order to improve the next crop. 

In the following month, Lieut. -Colonel Boxer, R.A., Superin- 
tendent of the Royal Laboratory, made his report on the explosion, 
which corroborated all Colonel Moody had said, and concluded with 
these words: " I respectfully submit that further restrictions in relation 
to gunpowder magazines, etc., than those already imposed, are required 
for the due protection of the public, and that all magazines and 
gunpowder factories, etc., ought to be subject to the same sort of 
inspection and control as that authorized by Act of Parliament in the 
case of the floating magazines in Liverpool." 

This report of Colonel Boxer's marks the beginning of the present 
system of inspection, and Colonel Boxer may be described as the first 
Government Inspector of Explosives, for on the 3ist October, 1864, 
Sir George Grey authorized Colonel Boxer "to inspect and examine 
any mill, magazine or place" in which any kind of explosive was 
manufactured or kept. Thereupon Colonel Boxer inspected a number 
of gunpowder mills and magazines and issued a report, dated 3ist Jan- 
uary, 1865, making recommendations, the spirit of which appears from 
the concluding sentence: "In the absence of legislative restrictions 
of universal and compulsory applicability it would be unreasonable 
to expect the adoption by individual firms or manufacturers, or the 
voluntary imposition by the trade at large, of more than ordinary 
precautions, when extra precautions entail extra cost. In no trade, 




\Cofyright. Mayall and Co., Ltd., London. 
FIG. 33. COLONEL SIR VIVIAN BERING MAJENDIE, K.C.B. 



LEGISLATION 159 

probably, are the prevailing recognized risks more carefully guarded 
against ; but in dealing with a substance like gunpowder, this is not 
sufficient; not only ordinary but extraordinary risks must be considered 
for the due security of the persons and property of the public, if not 
for the ultimate benefit, commercially speaking, of the manufacturers 
themselves." 

The late Col. Sir V. D. Majendie, K.C.B., appointed in a similar 
capacity in 1870, following upon an explosion at Messrs. Ludlow's, at 
Birmingham, by which fifty-three lives were lost, carried the evolution 
of legislation a step further by recommending, in 1871, the appointment 
of permanent Inspectors. In a report to the Home Secretary dated 
i6th May, 1872, he again urges this recommendation, and says: "If I 
succeed in showing that the law is, as I have stated, habitually dis- 
regarded, and that many necessary precautions are, as I have stated, 
generally neglected, I shall, I think, have established the necessity for 
the appointment of one or more permanent inspectors of Gunpowder 
Factories, etc., quite irrespective of the numerous very important duties 
not connected with the actual work of enforcing the law which the 
inspectors ought to be required to perform." 

The summoning of a Royal Commission and the passing of the 
1875 Explosives Act have brought us, humanly speaking, within 
finality; at any rate, legislation with regard to explosives is now based 
on lines which are not likely to be altered for some time at least 
to come. 

We are indebted to H.M. Inspectors of Explosives for the follow- 
ing lucid description of the working of this Act. 

The Explosives Act, 1875, deals only with the manufacture, 
keeping, conveyance, and importation of explosives as defined in that 
Act, and does not directly regulate in any way their use. 

Before, however, any general traffic in an explosive can take 
place it must be placed on the List of Authorized Explosives, and the 
following is a brief outline of the method by which such authorization 
is obtained. In the first place the inventor or his agent is requested to 



160 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

submit a sample amounting to a few ounces of the proposed explosive 
for examination by the Chemical Advisers to the Explosives Depart- 
ment, the exact composition being forwarded at the same time. Should 
the preliminary tests of the sensitiveness to percussion and friction 
be satisfactory, a notification to this effect is sent to the inventor, 
and if the compound contains any substance with which the Chemical 
Advisers are not fully acquainted the explosive is then submitted to 
further tests to ascertain its keeping properties, a fee of varying 
amount being charged for this examination. If this further test is 
satisfactory the explosive is placed on the list of authorizable explos- 
ives, that is to say, on the list of those explosives for the importation 
or manufacture of which a licence will be issued on application. 

When fully authorized the explosive is added to the List, which is 
signed by a Government Inspector, and kept at the Home Office. For 
many years this List, with the definitions of the explosives, was published 
annually; but for the last eight or nine years, owing to representations 
from the trade, this is no longer the case, the names only being 
published and the composition being kept confidential. 

Manufacture. With certain trifling exceptions no explosive can 
be lawfully manufactured without a license or a continuing certificate. 
The latter, however, affects such factories only as were in existence 
before the passing of the Explosives Act, and although in the case of 
some of these, the construction of the buildings, the distances between 
the buildings and the number of workpeople employed in each 
building, could scarcely be described as harmonizing with modern 
ideas, it was felt at the time the Act was passed, that interference to 
any considerable extent with factories which had been in existence for 
many years was not feasible. 

The applicant for a factory licence must in the first instance 
submit a plan showing the position of each building of the proposed 
factory, and stating at the same time the amount of explosives and the 
number of workpeople he desires in each. A draft is then prepared at 
the Home Office and forwarded to him for observations. If every- 




"7- >> 

s 



i6 2 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

thing is found to be satisfactory the Secretary of State gives his 
" assent " to an application to the Local Authority, under whose 
jurisdiction the site of the proposed factory is situated, for their consent 
to its erection, such application to be made by the applicant. Any 
local objections can thus be put forward and investigated and for this 
purpose, and in order to give local residents sufficient time to prepare 
their statements, every application for a factory licence shall be freely 
advertised for one clear month before the date fixed by the Local 
Authority for the hearing. The consent of the Local Authority having 
been obtained, the applicant is informed that he may proceed with the 
erection of his factory; the buildings must, however, be inspected and 
passed by one of the Government Inspectors before the draft licence can 
receive the confirmation of the Secretary of State ; and it is not until 
this has been given that manufacturing operations can be undertaken. 
Licences are drafted in such a manner as to meet the wishes of the 
applicant, as far as possible, subject always to the due protection of the 
lives of those employed. The trade generally understand that, except 
in special circumstances, the quantity of explosives allowed in a 
building depends entirely on the distances that can be maintained 
between this building and those adjacent to it, whereas the number of 
workpeople engaged there at any one time is regulated by the measure 
of risk that is attached to the particular operation carried on there and 
the facilities for escape. 

The construction of the danger buildings of a factory is governed 
by the general principle that a working building, where explosives are not 
kept over-night, should be built of the lightest materials possible, such 
as matchboarding and corrugated iron, whereas magazines in which 
the explosives are stored should be substantially built so as to give 
reasonable security against unauthorized entry; and preferably of con- 
crete, brick or masonry, except in cases where a night-watchman is 
employed, when a lighter construction may be sufficient. 

The terms of the licence must be strictly adhered to, and periodi- 
cal inspections are made in order to see that this is done, the Government 
Inspectors appointed under the Act visiting factories and magazines at 



1 64 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

unstated times and without notice. It is satisfactory evidence of the 
conscientiousness of the trade and the fairness of the regulations that 
only on very exceptional occasions does an inspector find any material 
infringement of a licence. 

Keeping. There are four methods in which explosives may lawfully 
be kept, viz. in magazines, stores, on registered premises, and lastly, in 
small quantities for private use. The method of licensing a magazine 
is practically identical with that applying to a factory, and the quantity 
of explosives which may be so kept, depends practically on the distances 
that can be maintained from protected works, i.e. houses, roads, etc. 

Store licences are issued by Local Authorities. Provided the 
situation and construction of a store conforms to the requirements of 
the Act the Local Authority has no option but to issue a licence. 
There are four divisions of stores, according to the distances that can 
be maintained from protected works, the quantity of explosives varying 
from 300 Ib. to 4,000 Ib. of gunpowder, or an equivalent of other 
explosives. The quantities are, as a rule, sufficient for the service of a 
large colliery or quarry, and the only objection that can be urged is a 
certain want of elasticity in special circumstances. No unauthorized 
explosive may be kept in a store; and high explosives, such as 
dynamite, blasting gelatine, etc., may not be kept without a certificate 
from a chief officer of police, to the effect that the licensee is a proper 
person for the purpose. 

Retail dealers must keep small quantities of explosives in specially 
suited registered premises. As in the case of a store licence a Local 
Authority has no option but to accept a registration, which is merely a 
notice that the applicant proposes to keep explosives on his premises; 
it is, however, the duty of the Local Authority to see that the explosive 
is kept in conformity with the provisions of the law, for which purpose 
a properly appointed officer is employed. There are two methods by 
which explosives may thus be kept; in accordance with Mode A they 
may be stored in a small detached building, in which quantities up to 
200 Ib. of gunpowder may be kept and a proportionate amount of other 
explosives ; Mode B provides for keeping in a receptacle in a building 



1 66 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

up to 50 Ib. of gunpowder, or a proportionate amount of other 
explosives. In cases where an officer of the Local Authority is zealous 
in enforcing the law this method of keeping appears to be very satis- 
factory; but unfortunately in many places the provisions of the Act in 
regard to Registered Premises are almost, if not entirely, disregarded, 
with the result that accidents occur from time to time which, from the 
nature of the surroundings, give rise as a rule to considerable local 
panic, although from the limited quantities allowed on these premises 
the loss of life outside the building in which the explosives are kept has 
been very small in the thirty years or so during which the Act has 
been in operation. 

The keeping of explosives for private use is limited to small quan- 
tities of such explosives as are generally required for purposes of sport, 
firework displays and blasting on private property. Thirty pounds of 
gunpowder may be kept, or 10 Ib. of small arms nitro-compounds such 
as those used for the loading of sporting cartridges ; 5 Ib. of fireworks 
are allowed, or, for use in display within 14 days, an unlimited quantity; 
10 Ib. of blasting explosive, other than gunpowder, and 100 detonators 
may also be kept under a police certificate, such as those which apply 
to stores and registered premises. 

Conveyance. The carriage of explosives by rail and canal, and in 
harbours and docks, is regulated by by-laws made by the Companies 
concerned, subject to the sanction of the Board of Trade. Model 
Codes of by-laws have been prepared by the Explosives Department 
of the Home Office, and in most cases accepted, so that there is a cer- 
tain degree of uniformity throughout the United Kingdom. Carriage 
by road is regulated by an Order of the Secretary of State made under 
the Act. As regards conveyance in general, however, much depend- 
ence is placed on the method of packing, and it is considered that the 
immunity from accident enjoyed in this country is largely due to the 
excellent packages required by law. During the thirty-three years of 
the existence of the Explosives Act there has been only one serious 
accident in conveyance, viz., that in connection with the importation of 
so-called percussion caps in the SS. Manitoba on 6th July, 1898. 



LEGISLATION 167 

Importation. No explosive other than gunpowder and explosives 
of Class VI, Division i, 1 may be imported without a licence, for which 
a small fee is charged irrespective of the quantity imported in any one 
cargo. Importation Licences are only granted for certain ports at 
which the Customs Authorities have established facilities for taking 
samples, and transmitting them to the Explosives Department in 
London. Until these samples have been examined by the Chemical 
Advisers to the Department, and released by a Government Inspector, 
the explosive is held in bond in licensed magazines or other authorized 
places of storage and may not be distributed. 

Accidents. It is satisfactory that as far as accidents in manu- 
facture, conveyance, and storage are concerned, i.e., in connection with 
such part of the traffic in explosives as is regulated by the Explosives 
Act, there has been a very material decrease as compared with the 
years before the passing of the Act. 

During the three years from 1868 to 1870 there occurred in the 
manufacture of explosives in England and Wales only, no less than 64 
accidents, causing the death of 129 persons, and injury to 85 others, 
giving an average per annum of 43 deaths. 

From 1871 to 1874 inclusive, a period during which an incomplete 
system of inspection existed, 1 28 persons were killed, giving an average 
of 32 per annum. 

For the last thirty years, during which there is a fairly complete 
record of the accidents which have occurred in manufacture in the whole 
United Kingdom, the figures of the three decades are as follows: 

No. of Average per thousand, 

accidents. Killed. Injured. Employed. Killed. Injured. 

1878101887 648 75 172 7,500 i 2\ 

Average per annum . 64.8 7.5 17.2 

1888 to 1897 499 52 194 

Average per annum . 49-9 5-2 19.4 10,000 .5 2 

1898 to 1907 528 69 258 14,500 Under .5 2 

Average per annum . 52.8 6.9 25.8 



' This class embraces safety cartridges, safety-fuses for blasting, railway fog signals, 
percussion caps. 



1 68 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

From the above it would appear that the number of accidents has 
largely increased, but this apparent increase is to be attributed to the 
fact that since the trade has been under efficient regulation, all 
accidents, of whatever nature, are reported, even though no personal 
injury or damage to material be incurred, whereas formerly only such 
accidents were reported as entailed serious consequences. 

In connection with the storage of explosives in magazines, stores, 
there is only one fatal accident to record during the time that the Act 
has been in force, the explosion of a floating magazine on the Thames 
on 3Oth June, 1877, causing the death of two persons, but the same 
cannot be said about registered premises and private use. Accidents 
occur from time to time in connection both with dealers' premises and 
in private houses, but owing to the quantities allowed to be so kept it 
is most exceptional for any person to be injured outside the premises 
on which the accident occurs. All things considered, it is perhaps 
surprising that accidents of this kind are not more frequent. The 
position in this country with regard to accidents from explosives in 
transit is most satisfactory and may be reasonably ascribed, to the very 
careful methods of packing required under the Explosives Act. In 
factories and magazines, or even on registered premises, it is possible 
to a certain extent to allow for the effects of an accident and take pre- 
cautions accordingly, but during conveyance the quantities concerned 
are as a rule large, and the conditions may be such as to involve injuries 
to a very large number of persons, and to much valuable property, and 
as has frequently been shown in other countries, the effects of an 
explosion in these circumstances may be appalling. 

The use of explosives as already stated does not come within 
purview of the Explosives Act, although by advice, by special rules 
under the Mines and Quarries Act, and similar means every effort is 
made to reduce the number of accidents. In relation to the quantities 
of explosives now used in engineering works, the accidents are not 
excessive, but they are considerably higher than they need be, as in 
nine out of every ten cases they could have been prevented by the 



LEGISLATION 169 

exercise of ordinary care. Many accidents used to be caused in con- 
nection with the thawing of nitro-glycerine explosives, but the number 
is gradually growing less as the danger of this operation is impressed 
on those who handle explosives. 

The above description of the working of the Explosives Depart- 
ment of the Home Office and the administration of the 1875 Act, f r 
which, as already stated, we are indebted to that Department, does not 
make mention of the Explosives Substances Act, 1883, relating to the 
unlawful use of explosives, which has a political bearing, and therefore 
scarcely comes within the scope of the present work. 

The Coal-Mines Regulation Act is referred to in the chapter 
devoted to Permitted Explosives, whilst the Dynamite Fishing Act of 
1877 scarcely comes within the scope of this work. 

The gratifying success of the administration of the Explosives Act 
under the Home Office must be largely attributed to the tact, discretion, 
and especially to the strict impartiality and fairmindedness of H.M. 
Inspectors. Recruited as these gentlemen are from the scientific 
branches of the Army they have loyally maintained the great traditions 
of the late Colonel Majendie's original administration. On the other 
hand, however, the manner in which the trade have accepted and 
observed the regulations as by law provided, and have conscientiously 
endeavoured to the best of their ability and often at great expense, to 
carry them out, not only in the letter but in the spirit also, has been a 
large contributing factor, and one of which the nation as a whole may 
be justly proud. 

Our illustrations show by way of contrast an old gunpowder mill 
as it existed in the eighteenth century, the plan of a modern factory laid 
out in accordance with Home Office regulations, and a partial view of 
one of the largest high-explosives factories in the world. The two last 
will give some idea of the difficulties and labour of modern inspection. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

THE subjoined complete list of books on explosives, published in 
England, has been added in the hope that students may find it 
useful. In some cases the name of the publisher could not be ascer- 
tained, no copy of the book in question having been found in the 
British Museum, or elsewhere in London. The references to books 
published before 1800 are all to the first editions, these alone having 
antiquarian interest; the references to books printed after 1800 are to 
the latest editions only. 

No date. T. Angelo. The Art of making fireworks made plain 

and easy. London, J. Bailey. 
No date. Christopher Grotz, Real Engineer. The Art of making 

fireworks, detonating balls, etc. London, Dean and 

Munday. 
No date. " Practicus." Pyrotechny, or the art of making Fireworks 

at little cost and with complete safety and cleanliness. 

London, Ward, Lock and Tyler. 
No date. Anonymous. The Art of making Fireworks improved to 

the modern practice. Derby, Thomas Richardson. 
1560. Peter Whitehorne. Certain waies for the orderyng of 

souldiers in battelray. How to make Saltpetre, Gunpowder, 

etc. London, John Wight. 
1579. Thomas Digges. An Arithmetical! Militare treatise named 

Stratisticos (including a treatise of pyrotechnic and Great 

Artillerie). London, Henrie Bynneman. 
1587. William Bourne. The Arte of shooting in Great Ordnaunce. 

London, Thomas Woodcocke. 

170 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 171 

1588. Cyprian Lucar. A treatise/ named Lvcar Appendix/ collected 
by Cyprian Lvcar gen-/ tleman, ovt of divers good avthors/ in 
divers languages:/ To show vnto the Reader the properties, 
office and dutie of a Gunner, and to teach him to make, and 
refine artificiall Saltpeter; to/ sublime brimstone for gun- 
powder, to make coles for gunpowder, to make gunpowder 
of di-/uers sorts & of diuers colours etc. (Appendix to a 
translation of Tartaglia's book). London, John Harrison 
the Elder. 

1591. W. Clowes. A Profitable and Necessary Book of Observations 
for all those that are burned with the flame of Gunpowder, 
etc. London, T. Dawson. 

1628. Robert Norton. The Gvnner, Shewing The Whole Practise 
Of Artillerie: With all the Appurtenances therevnto belong- 
ing. Together with the making of Extraordinary Artificiall 
Fireworkes, as well for Pleasure and Triumphes, as for Warre 
and Seruice. London, Humphrey Robinson. 

1634. John Bate. The mysteries of Nature and Art (Second part: 

of Fierworks). London, Andrew Crook. 

1635. Jhri Babington. Pyrotechnia. London, Ralph Mab. 

1635. William Bariffe. Military Discipline: Or The yong Artillery 

Man. London, Ralph Mab. 
1639. John Roberts. The Compleat Cannoniere; or the Gunner's 

Guide. London, George Hurlock. 

1646. Eldred. The Gunner's Glasse. London, Robert Boydell. 
1648. Nathaniel Nye. The Art of Gunnery. London, William 

Leak. 
1654. Nicolaus Upton. De studio militari libri IV. London, John 

Martin and James Allestrye. 

1658. G. Starkey. Pyrotechnic. London, Samuel Thomson. 
1 66 1. Anonymous. The compleat canoneer, shewing the principles 

and grounds of the art of gunnery, as also of fireworks for 

sea and land. London. 



i;2 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1669. Johannes Mayow. Tractatus quinque medico-physici, quo- 

rum primus agit de salnitro et spiritu nitro-aereo. Oxford, 
pub. at the Sheldonian Theatre. 

1670. William Clarke. The Natural History of Nitre; or, a Philo- 

sophical Discourse of the Nature, Generation, Place and 

Artificial Extraction of Nitre, with its Virtues and Uses. 

London, Nathaniel Brook. 
1672. Anonymous. Military and Maritime Discipline. Book III. 

The Compleat Gunner. London, Robert Pawlet. 
1674. Van Etten. Mathematical recreations, containing an account 

of artificial fireworks. London, William and John Leak. 
1676. Capt. Thomas Binning. A Light to the Art of Gunnery; 

wherin is laid down the true weight of powder both for 

proof and action, etc. London, Andrew Forrester. 

1683. Sir Jonas Moore. A General Treatise of Artillery: or, great 

ordnance. With an Appendix of Artificial Fire-works for 
War and Delight; by Sir Abraham Dager, Kt, Ingenier. 
London, Obadiah Blagrave. 

1684. Sturmy. Mariner's magazine, with the art of gunnery and 

artificial fireworks. London, W. Fisher and others. 

1684. John White. A rich cabinet with variety of inventions . . . 
as also Variety of recreative Fire-works both for Land, Air 
and Water. And Fire-works of Service, for sea and shore. 
London, William Whitwood. 

1688. J. S. The Souldiers Companion; or, Military Glory Display'd. 
. . . Together with the Art of Gunery, and preparing Arti- 
ficial Fireworks for Ear or Recreation, with other things and 
Matters necessary to be known on like Occasion. London, 
Nath. Ponder. 

1690. Robert Anderson. On the nature and use of rockets. London. 

1696. Robert Anderson. The making of rockets. London, Robert 
Morden. 

1731. John Gray, F.R.S. A treatise on gunnery. London. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 173 

1742. Benjamin Robins. New principles of Gunnery. London, 
F. Wingrave. 

1750. Liedbeck. Dissertatio de ictu pyrobolica. London. 

1752. H. Manningham. Belidor's dissertation on the force and 
effects of Gunpowder. London, J. Nourse and P. Vaillant 

1757. John Muller. A Treatise of Artillery. Prefixed to it is: 
Theory of Gunpowder applied to Fire- Arms. London. 

1765. Lieut. Jones. A new Treatise on artificial fireworks. Lon- 
don, J. Millan. 

1778. Charles Hutton. The Theorie of fired gunpowder and the 
initial velocity of Canonballs. London, F. C. and J. Riv- 
ington. 

1792. G. Montagu. Sportsman's Dictionary or a Treatise on Gun 

Powder and Fire Arms. London, R. Faulder. 

1793. Gunpowder Makers. Reply to the report of the Committee of 

Warehouses of the East India Company on the subjects of 
saltpetre and Gunpowder; most respectfully submitted to the 
Right Hon. the Lords of the Committee of Privy Council 
for Trade. By the Gunpowder Makers of London. London. 
1811. Sir W. Congreve. A Statement of Facts relative to the 
Savings which have arisen from manufacturing Gunpowder at 
the Royal Powder Mills; and of the Improvements which 
have been made in its Strength and Durability since the year 
1783. London, James Whiting. 

1813. James Walker. Danger to the Metropolis by the Improper 

Conveyance and keeping of Gunpowder. London, J. Darling. 

1814. James Walker. Remarks on the Safe Conveyance and Preser- 

vation of Gunpowder. London, J. Darling. 

1818. Sir W. Congreve. A Short Account of Improvements in Gun- 
powder, made by ... London. 

1824. G. W. Mortimer. A Manual of Pyrotechny. London, 
W. Simpkin and R. Marshall. 

1836. Wm. Robinson. Correspondence and Report respecting the 



174 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Gunpowder Magazines near the Town of Liverpool. Man- 
chester, Geo. Smith. 

1841. Henry Wilkinson. Engines of war, ancient and modern, in- 
cluding the Manufacture of Guns, Gunpowder and Swords. 
London, Longman and Co. 

1855. William Henry Hart. A Short Account of the Early Manu- 
facture of Gunpowder in England. London, W. H. Elkins. 

1859. W. Quartermain. Expansive Force of Gunpowder as a Motive 
Power. London. 

1859. John Scoffern. Projectile Weapons of War and Explosive 
Compounds. London, Longman, Brown and Co. 

1862. Col. W. Anderson. Sketch of the Mode of Manufacturing 
Gunpowder at the Ishapore Mills, Bengal, with Notes and 
Additions by Lieut.-Col. Parlby. London, John Weale. 

1864. Lieut.-Col. F. Miller. Gun Cotton. London. 

1865. James Gale. Mr. Gale's Invention for rendering Gunpowder 

Non-explosive and Restoring its Explosive Properties at 
Pleasure. Plymouth. 

1865. Arthur Walker. Breech- Loaders for the Army, and Gun 

Cotton. London. 

1866. Francis Bashforth. Description of a Chronograph adapted for 

measuring the Varying Velocity of a Body in motion through 

the Air and other Purposes. London. 
1866. Capt. Henry D. Grant. Report on Nitro- Glycerine. 

London. 
1869. Official. Record and Proceedings of the Guncotton Committee. 

London. 
1865-1870. Francis Bashforth. Reports on the Experiments made 

with the Bashforth Chronograph to determine the Resistance 

of the Air to the Motion of Projectiles. London, W. Clowes 

and Son. 
1871. F. A. Abel. On Recent Investigations and Applications of 

Explosive Agents. Edinburgh, Edmonston and Douglas. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 175 

1872. V. D. Majendie. Report of Trial of Fire-Proof Gunpowder 
Magazines. (Reprint from Proc. Roy. Artillery Inst., 1872.) 
London. 

1872. Frederick A. Abel. On Explosive Agents applicable to Naval 

and Military Uses as Substitutes for Gunpowder. London, 
W. Mitchell and Co. 

1873. Francis Bashforth. A Mathematical Treatise on the Motion 

of Projectiles. London, Asher and Co. 

1874. J. Burgoyne. Treatise on the Blasting and Quarrying of Stone. 

London. 

1871-1874. Official. Report and Proceedings of the Special Com- 
mittee on Guncotton. London. 

1877. Capt. Hamilton Geary. Notes on Gun-cotton. London, 

Stationery Office. 

1878. George G. Andre. Rock Blasting. London, E. and 

F. N. Spon. 
1882. W. Murrell. Nitroglycerine as a Remedy for Angina Pectoris. 

London (reprinted from the "Lancet"). 

1884. H. C. Pennell. The Smoke of Battle. Letters on a Smoke- 
less Explosive. London, W. Ridgway. 
1886. Dr. Hermann Sprengel. The Hell Gate Explosion near New 

York and so-called " Rackarock." London, E. and F. N. Spon. 
1889. Jhn Townsend Bucknill. Submarine Mines and Torpedoes 

as applied to Harbour Defence. London, Offices of 

" Engineering." 
1889. James Atkinson Longridge. Internal Ballistics. London, 

E. and F. N. Spon. 
1889. F. C. Morgan. Handbook of Artillery Materiel. London, 

William Clowes and Sons, Ltd. 

1889. C. Sleeman. Torpedoes and Torpedo Warfare. Portsmouth, 

Griffin and Co. 

1890. James Atkinson Longridge. Smokeless Powder and its Influ- 

ence on Gun Construction. London, E. and F. N. Spon. 



1 76 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1890. Dr. Hermann Sprengel. Origin of Melinite and Lyddite. 

London, privately printed. 

1891. Dr. W. R. Hodgkinson. Notes on Explosives. London, 

Eyre and Spottiswoode. 

1892. C. Napier Hake and William Macnab. Explosives and their 

Power (translated and condensed from the French of M. Ber- 

thelot). London, John Murray. 
1892. Arthur Rigg and James Garvie. Modern Guns and Smokeless 

Powder. London, E. and F. N. Spon. 
1894. Dr. W. H. Browne. Firework Making for Amateurs. London, 

L. Upcott Gill. 

1894. Charles Gilbert. Fireworks and Chemical Surprises. London, 

Dean and Son. 

1895. Cross and Bevan. Cellulose. London, Longmans, Green 

and Co. 

1895. Wirt Gerrare. A Bibliography of Guns and Shooting. London, 
Roxburghe Press. 

1895. Oscar Guttmann. The Manufacture of Explosives. London, 

Whittaker and Co. 

1896. A. C. Kayll. Report of the Proceedings of the Flameless 

Explosive Committee. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Andrew 
Reid and Co. 

1897. J- T. Bucknill. Large Explosions and their Radii of Danger. 

London, Offices of " Engineering." 

1897. Manuel Eissler. A Handbook on Modern Explosives. Lon- 
don, Crosby, Lockwood and Son. 

1897. Editor of the " Field." Sporting Guns and Gunpowders, Part I. 

London. 

1898. Albert W. Daw and Zacharias W. Daw. The Blasting of Rock 

in Mines, Quarries, Tunnels, etc. (Part I only appeared.) 
London, E. and F. N. Spon, Ltd. 

1898. W. Galloway. Colliery Explosions. Cardiff, South Wales 
Inst. of Engineers. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY . 177 

1899. Robert Hunter. Shot Firing by Electricity. Glasgow, Hunter 

and Warren. 
1899. Thomas Kentish. The Complete Art of Firework Making. 

London, Chatto and Windus. 

1899. Wm. Maurice. Electric Blasting. Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Inst. 

of Mining Engineers. 

1900. Editor of "The Field." Sporting Guns and Gunpowders. 

Part II. London. 

1900. Maurice J. D. Cockle. A Bibliography of English Military 

Books up to 1642 and of contemporary Foreign Works. 
London, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co., Ltd. 

1901. Cross and Bevan. Researches on Cellulose. 1895-1900. 

London, Longmans, Green and Co. 

1903. Hermann Sprengel. The Discovery of Picric Acid (Melinite, 

Lyddite) as a Powerful Explosive and of Cumulative Detona- 
tion with its Bearing on Wet Guncotton (with an Appendix). 
London, Eyre and Spottiswoode. 

1904. Henry W. L. Hime. Gunpowder and Ammunition, their 

Origin and Progress. London, Longmans, Green and Co. 

1905. A. Cooper-Key. A Primer of Explosives. London, Macmillan 

and Co., Ltd. 

I 95- J- H. Thomson. Guide to the Explosives Act, 1875. London, 
Stationery Office. 

1906. Oscar Guttmann. Monumenta Pulveris Pyrii. London, 

privately printed. 
1906, Oscar Guttmann. Blasting. London, Charles Griffin and 

Co., Ltd. 
1906. Cross and Bevan. Researches on Cellulose II. 1900-1905. 

London, Longmans, Green and Co. 

1906. F. Joyce and Co., Ltd. The Sporting Cartridge. London. 
1906. Sir Andrew Noble. Artillery and Explosives, Essays and 

Lectures written and delivered at various times. London, 

John Murray. 

N 



178 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1906. P. Gerald Sanford. Nitro-Explosives London, Crosby, 

Lockwood and Son. 

1907. Wm. Maurice. Electric Blasting Apparatus and Explosives 

with Special Reference to Colliery Practice. London. " The 
Electrician." 

1907. Official. Treatise on Service Explosives. London. 

1908. Dr. F. H. Bowman. The Structure of the Cotton Fibre in its 

relation to Technical Applications. London, Macmillan 
and Co. 

1909. Oscar Guttmann. The Manufacture of Explosives. Twenty 

Years' Progress. London, Whittaker and Co. 



NAME INDEX 

Abel, 1871, 1872; Anderson, 1690, 1696, 1862; Andre, 1878; Angelo, 
no date; Anonymous, no date; 1661, 1672, 1688. 

Babington, 1635; Bariffe, 1635; Bashforth, 1866, 1870, 1873; Bate, 
1634; Bevan, 1895, ^o 1 , 1906; Binning, 1676; Bourne, 1587; 
Bowman, 1908; Browne, 1894; Bucknill, 1889, 1897; Burgoyne, 
1874. 

Clarke, 1670; Clowes, 1591; Cockle, 1900; Congreve, 1811, 1818; 
Cooper-Key, 1905; Cross, 1895, I 9 l < 1906. 

Dager, 1683; Daw, 1898; Digges, 1579. 
Eissler, 1897; Eldred, 1646; van Etten, 1674. 
Field, 1897, 1900. 

Gale, 1865; Galloway, 1898; Garvie, 1892; Geary, 1877; Gerrare, 
1895; Gilbert, 1894; Grant, 1866; Gray, 1731; Grotz, no date; 
Gunpowder makers, 1793; Guttmann, 1895, 1906, 1906, 1909. 

Hake, 1892; Hart, 1855; Hime, 1904; Hodgkinson, 1891; Hunter, 
1899; Hutton, 1778. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 179 

Jones, 1765; Joyce, 1906. 

i 

Kayll, 1896; Kentish, 1899. 

Liedbeck, 1750; Longridge, 1889, 1890; Lucar, 1588. 

Macnab, 1892; Majendie, 1872; Manningham, 1752; Maurice, 1899, 
1907; Mayow, 1669; Miller, 1864; Montagu, 1792; Moore, 1683; 
Morgan, 1889; Mortimer, 1824; Muller, 1757; Murrell, 1882. 

Noble, 1906; Norton, 1628; Nye, 1648. 

Official, 1869, 1874, 1907. 

Pennell, 1884; Practicus, no date. 

Ouartermain, 1859. 

Rigg, 1892; Roberts, 1639; Robins, 1742; Robinson, 1836. 

J. S., 1688; Sanford, 1906; Scoffern, 1859; Sleeman, 1889; Sprengel, 
1886, 1890, 1903; Starkey, 1658; Sturmy, 1684. 

Thomson, 1905. 
Upton, 1654. 

Walker, 1813, 1814, 1865; White, 1684; Whitehorne, 1560 ; Wilkinson, 
1841. 



CHRONOLOGY 

(i 242-1 700) 

1242. Roger Bacon in " De mirabili potestate artis et naturae" gives 
anagrammatic composition of Gunpowder. 

1327. A manuscript in the Christ Church library in Oxford by Walter 
de Millemete, written for King Edward III and entitled " De 
officiis regum " contains a picture of an armoured man firing an 
arrow-like heavy missile from a bottle-shaped cannon. 

1338, 22nd June. Indenture between John Sterlyng, formerly clerk of 
ships, galleys, barges, balingers, and other King's vessels and 
Helmyng Liget, Keeper of the same (12 Edward III, 1338), 
which mentions " un petit barrell de gonpoudre le quart plein." 
(Trail, "Social England," ii, 129.) 

i34o(?). Middle of fourteenth century. Fragment of a roll contain- 
ing medical and other recipes, some in French and some in Latin. 
The third line is " Expliciunt signa mortis hominis." The 
fourth line is the heading of a recipe, " Pour dolour et duresse 
de ventre." It contains a recipe for making gunpowder, in 
Latin, as an experiment for the laboratory; but makes no 
mention of its use for military purposes. The battle of Crecy 
had not been fought. There are altogether 141 lines. (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. MSS. belonging to the Ewelme Almshouse, in 
the county of Oxford, rep. 8, p. 625 a.) 

1346, loth May. Edward III obtains 912 Ibs. saltpetre and 886 Ibs. of 
quick sulphur, and pays for it to Thomas de Roldeston through 
William of Stanes. (Public Record Office L.T.R. Enrolled 
Wardrobe Account, No. 4.) 



Note. A last of gunpowder was 24 hundredweights of 100 Ib. each. A hundredweight 
of saltpetre was, however, 112 Ib., of which 12 Ib. were allowed for the loss in refining. 

1 80 



CHRONOLOGY 181 

1346, 25th November. King's writ to buy all saltpetre and sulphur. 

750 Ibs. and 310 Ibs. respectively were obtained. 

1344-47. Thomas de Roldeston, Clerk of the King's private Wardrobe 
in the Tower of London accounts for 40 shillings for the manu- 
facture of powder for guns and repairing various arms. (Account 
of the wardrobe of Edward III. 25th December, 1344, to i8th 
October, 1347.) 

1347, 2ist September. King's writ to buy all saltpetre and sulphur. 

202 1 Ibs. saltpetre and 466 Ibs. sulphur obtained, at 18^. per Ib. 
of saltpetre and %d. per Ib. of sulphur. 

1378, i6th March. Order to all sheriffs, mayors, etc., to aid Thomas 
Norwich, appointed by the King to buy and provide (under the 
oversight of Thomas Restwold) in the city of London and else- 
where, two great and two smaller engines called "canons," 600 
stones for the same, bows, arrows, iron, steel, and 300 Ibs. of 
"sal petre," 100 Ibs. of live sulphur, one barrel " carbonium de 
salugh "... for the defence of the King's castle of Brest. 
(Treaty Roll, 62, mem. 15.) 

1387. Among the munitions bought for Cherbourg we find: 100 pounds 
of nitre at 2s.; 702 pounds of nitre at is. %d.\ 50 pounds of 
sulphur vivum at iod.\ 252 pounds of sulphur vivum at ^d. 
(Roger's "Agriculture and Prices," vol. i, p. 649.) 

1404, 2ist October. Commission to Nicholas Mauduyt, sergeant at 
arms, to take men, horses and carts for the carriage of the 
King's guns and certain tins containing powder called "gun- 
powdre" and other instruments pertaining to the guns from the 
castle of Pontefract to other places. (Patent Roll, 6 Henry IV, 
pt. i, mem. 28d.) 

1412. Gunpowder is now manufactured in England. In this year its 
exportation was prohibited. A licence is granted to the Am- 
bassadors of the Earl of Alencon to carry home with them 
400 Ibs. of saltpetre and 100 Ibs. of sulphur. Gunpowder when 
first made was not corned or granulated but used in its mealed 



182 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

state, and was then called " Serpentyne Powder." (Meikleham, 
Progress of Machinery, etc., 1846, p. 34.) 

1414, 26th September. Writs to the Collectors of customs in the ports 
of London, Hull etc. etc. directing that no person whatsoever, 
merchant or otherwise shall export " gunpoudre " to foreign 
parts, without special mandate from the King. (Close Roll, 2, 
Henry V, mem. 16.) 

1424. Assignment to Henry Lord Fitz Hugh, Walter Hungreford, 
Walter Beauchamp, Lewis Robessart, William Porter, Robert 
Babthorpe, John Wodehouse and John Leventhorp, executors 
of the will of Henry V in satisfaction of the ^"8266 i^s. \d. still 
due to them under the ordinance made in the Parliament held 
in the King's first year of the following sums, of which tallies 
are said to have been levied at the receipt of the Exchequer, viz. 
^45 los. for saltpetre at Cales in the custody of the King's 
treasures there or the saltpetre itself. (Patent Roll, 2 Henry VI, 
pt. 2, mem. 33.) 

1449 (circa). " Paid the maker of the pellet-powder (pulveris librillarum) 
for the gounnys (guns) for his labour 3^. Paid for a quart of 
vinegar to test the saltpetre i\d. Paid John Bayle for making a 
little sack of sheeps leather, and for the leather for the sack, which 
sack was provided to carry sulphur and saltpetre for the pellet 
powder. Paid John Bayle for a certain strainer through which 
the charcoal was sifted or cleansed for the pellet powder. Paid 
Robert Lubard for making the pellets of iron. (Rye Municipal 
Records, Chamberlain's Account Book, fol. I4a. Hist. MSS. 
Comm. Report V, p. 490.) 

1457, 1 3th December. John Judd of London made sixty serpentines 
and 20 tons of gunpowder, was made Master of the Ordnance 
for Life. (W. H. Hart, "A Short Account of the Early Manu- 
facture of Gunpowder in England," London, 1855.) 

1456-8. . . . Paid to William Growte for dijting (preparing) of 
3 dyners, and for his labour to Sandwiche fachyng ther gunne 



CHRONOLOGY 183 

powdur 2s. . . . (Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Corporation 
of Lydd, rep. 5, p. 521.) 

1461. A house called " Powderhous " in the Tower of London men- 
tioned. (Patent Roll, i Edward IV, pt. i, mem. 5.) 

1466-7. . . . Paiede for gunne powther, fet at Sandewhiche 5^. ^d. . . . 
(Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Corporation of Lydd, rep. 5, 

P- 523-) 

1467, 29th August. Westminster. Grant to John Nicoll of London, 
" grocer " and his executors and assigns, in payment for a 
quantity of powder called "gunpowdre" to the value of 
-559 IOS - %d- delivered for the King's use to John Wode, 
master of the King's ordnance (of 40 marks yearly from Easter 
last from the issues of the county of Lincoln, 40 marks yearly 
from Easter last from the issues of the counties of Bedford and 
Buckingham, ^"40 yearly from Easter last from the issues of 
the county of Cornwall, ^20 yearly from Easter last from the 
issues of the counties of Oxford and Berks and 26 i is. yearly 
from Easter last from the issues of the counties of Somerset 
and Dorset, until he be fully satisfied). (Patent Roll, 7 Ed- 
ward IV, pt. i, mem. 3.) 

1469, 2oth June. Appointment, during pleasure, of Roger Ploweden 
to take carpenters, plumbers, and other workmen for the works 
of the King's ordnance and bombards, cannons, Sulphur, powder, 
Sattpetyr, etc. The like to 4 others and in 1470 to 3 others. 
In 1471 similar appointments for 3 persons. In 1472 3 others. 
(Patent Roll, 9 Edward IV, pt. i, mem. 6.) 

1469-70. . . . Paied to Richard Barle for beryng of a pot of gunne- 
powder to the Nesse id. (Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the 
Corporation of Lydd, rep. 5, p. 525.) 

1512. For gunpowder and saltpetre to Francis de Errona, Spaniard, 
for 707 pounds of gunpowder at $^d. per pound, and 103 qr. 
22 Ibs. of saltpetre in rock at ^d. per Ib. To John Stanget of 
Ipswich, for making saltpetre. (Exchr. T. R. Misc. bk. i, p. 29.) 



1 84 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1512, ist, 8th, i5th, 22nd, 29th February. King's Book of Payments. 
Th. Hart, making gunpowder in Porchester Castle ^140, salt- 
petre 20. (S. P. Henry VIII. Exchequer T. R. Misc. 
Books, 215, p. 7-577 [under date].) 

1512, 29th December. John Stile at Burgos to Henry VIII. [In 
cipher.] Howbe that, and yt plese your grace, by fore the 
comyng of yowr sayd letters, the Kyng your good fader had 
conmandyd his conmandment of restraynte of the sayd salte- 
peter for to be releecyd; for as muche, and hyt plese yowr 
grace, as that y had knowlyche that the sayd saltepeter was 
provydeyd yn the ream of Napulys for yowr hyzghnys, and also 
a two monythys passyd, the factorys of the marchantys pur- 
vayors of the sayd saltepeter for yowr grace landyd at the 
porte of the Passage, and cam to me, then beyng yn San 
Sebastyans, schawyng to me that the cause of thayre comeying 
yn to thys partys was fir to have the sayd saltepeter at thayr 
lyberty, so that thay myzghte performe thayr promysys con- 
sernyng the same to yowr hyzghnys and yowr royal cownsayl ; 
upon the whych, and yt plese yowr grace, y wrate and sent a 
letter unto the Kyng yowr good fader, the whych ynmedeatly 
relecyd hys royal conmandment; and the sayd factors, Flor- 
entynys, retwryned to the Passage, and there frayzghted a 
schyp wythe the said saltpeter and brymstone, the whych 
saltpeter and bromstone so laden, the sayd schyp departeyd 
from the porte of the Passage towardys yowr realme of Yngland 
on the sevyntyn day of November, the whych my trust yn 
Almyzghty God ys, that by fore thys time be yn yowr realme 
of Yngland in savyte. (S. P. Henry VIII. Vesp. C. i, 69, 
British Museum.) 

1513, I5th January. John Stile to Henry VIII. [In cipher.] Date 

yn Valadolyd the fowrtyn day of Jenyver. 1513. . . . The 
saltpeter that was here restraynyd y had made suche labors by 
fir the comeyng of your Royal letters for the same, that the 



CHRONOLOGY 185 

Kyng your good fader had commandyd the same fir to be 
delyverd and was ladyn yn to a schyp, the whych, by Godys 
grace, ys yn yowr relm of Yngland byfore thys tyme. . . . 
(S. P. Henry VIII, Vesp. C. i, f. 24, British Museum.) 

1514, 2nd April. St. Mary's Bishopsgate. Receipt by Richard Cressall, 

prior of the New hospital of our Lady Bishopsgate Without, for 
20 marks had of Sir John Cutte, under treasurer, for the rent 
of a house near the said hospital, for making gunpowder. 
(Reference, S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 7, p. 152.) 

1515. For Hans Wolf, foreigner. To be one of the King's gunpowder 
makers in the Tower of London and elsewhere. He is to go 
from shire to shire to find a place where there' is stuff to make 
saltpetre of; and " where he and his laborers shall labor, dig or 
break in any ground " he is to make compensation to its owners. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 10, p. 154.) 

1517, ist April. "Obligations delivered" and "Obligations bound 
for saltpetre." (These are obligations of Italian merchants, 
most of whose names have been given above. The greater 
part of them is struck through.) (S. P. Henry VIII. Ex- 
chequer T. R. Misc. Books, 216, p. 325-50 [under date].) 

1531, 8th July. Thomas a Lee, one of the King's gunners, to be 
principal searcher and maker of saltpetre, with power to search 
and dig for the same in the King's lands and elsewhere. The 
said Thomas is to " replenish and make up plain " all ground 
broken, at his own cost, so that the owner be not injured. He 
is, however, authorized to hire workmen in the King's name, 
and to take wood for burning and trying the saltpetre, with 
carriage for the same by land and water, and to take any house 
or houses at reasonable rent, with all other necessaries and 
commodities for the same. (S. P. Henry VIII. Privy Seal.) 

1 537> I 9*h January. Sir Ralph Ellerker the younger to Henry VIII. 
Desires a speedy supply of gunpowder, gunners and guns for 
Hull. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 1 14, p. 224.) 



1 86 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1537, 4th February. John Travers to Cromwell. Has delivered half 
a last of powder to Sir Rafe Eldercar's deputy, of which he and 
the mayor of Hull were right joyous, for they had not 20 Ibs. 
till it came, which was last Saturday before noon. Will not 
meddle with the ordnance. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 115, 

pp. I93-4-) 

1537, 1 2th February. Sir Ralph Ellerker, Jun., to Cromwell. . . . His 
deputy received only half a last of gunpowder at Hull from 
Mr. Travers. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 116, pp. 13-16.) 

1537, 22nd March. Norfolk to Cromwell. "A Declaration for Robert 
Aske, concerning any profit of any spoils by him had during the 
time of this last commotion to the Duke of Norfolke grace. 
Never himself took any spoils. Certain of the King's lead of 
Merton Abbey, suppressed, was assigned to Mr. Copyndall to 
sell, to pay for carriages, gunpowder, etc. Aske received 
^9 13-f. 4^.; the rest remains with Mr. Copyndall. Aske 
declared this to the King who was gracious to him therein. . . . 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 117, pp. 80-87.) 

1537, 23rd August. Confession of Dermond O Dermond that was 
left in Mydrennye. . . . Bought powder of Lord James' servant 
and guns at Kilkenny. (S. P. Henry VIII, Ireland 7, p. 104, 19.) 

1538. The King's Payments. Jerom Bruyn, merchant, on warrant 
of 28 March "for certain demi haks complete, gunpowder with 
certain matches and javelins," delivered into the Tower, par- 
ticulars in a bill annexed signed by Sir Chr. Morrice and 
Ant. Anthony ^"504 6s. 8^. (S. P. Henry VIII, Arundel MS., 
97 f. 14, British Museum.) 

1538, 24th January. Harvel to Cromwell. The league between the 
Emperor, the Venetians, and the Cp. of Rome against the Turk 
was lately confirmed at Rome. Both the Emperor and Venice 
make great preparations. There have lately come to Trent 
40,000 pikes, many hackebusshes, and 1 5 carts of powder with 
other ammunition. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 128, p. 154.) 



CHRONOLOGY 187 

1538, i6th March. John Over to John Demock. I have received 
your letter of the nth. inst. about powder and "hackboshes " 
for the King's service. I have accordingly spoken to Hans 
Ruckardes, and we can supply from 1,000 to 2,000 (quintals) of 
powder at from 4. to ^ \6s. st. a Kyntell according to the 
quality. Three or four months will be required, as it must 
be bought (in) Do(cheland) and brought to Hamburgh or 
Antwerp. . . . Saltpetre here is dear at $ the c. . . . Cannot 
send samples of powder as there is none here. (S. P. 
Henry VIII, Galba B., x, 74, British Museum.) 

1539, March (?) A Purchaser of Armour for the King. . . . Has 22 lasts 

of powder at London ready to deliver. (S. P. Henry VIII, 
Royal MS. 7, C.xvi (125) British Museum.) 

1539, 1 7th March. James Hawkyssworthe to Lord Lisle. . . . My 
Lord Admiral was at Portsmouth i 7. March, and the master of 
the Ordnance and Sir Thos. Spart came to the castle " and 
aveyd all the bowys and arros " and also looked on the saltpetre 
which they liked very well. Thinks the saltpeter will be looked 
to shortly, fer the master of the Ordnance took a copy of the 
indentures "that langys to yt " and made a bill of all the bows. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 144, pi. 125.) 

1539, 22nd March. Sir Geo. Carew to Cromwell. . . . Found the 
fortress of Risbanck as raw and bare a house of war as ever 
was seen, with good artillery but not half a barrel of powder 
and no bows and arrows. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 144, pp. 

156-7-) 

1539, 23rd March. Cromwell's Accounts. . . . John Aprichardes, fer 
gunpowder spent at Stepnethe when my Lord mustered his 
men 235-. 8</. . . . April 3rd. 109. Ib. of gunpowder at *jd. / 
Z 3*. -]d. (S. P. Henry VIII, Exchr. T. R., Misc. Books, 
vol. cclvi.) 

1539, 2nd April. Antwerp. Wm. Laye to (Wriothesley). My duty 
remembered unto your good mastership. On Sunday last the 



1 88 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Emperor's Ambassador, 1 which came out of England dined at 
one Gerald Starkes, sometime tolner here, where he said more 
harness, powder and gunstones were conveyed into England 
than remained here. In so much that on Monday last, search 
was made in the ships laden for England and 2 maunds of 
harness belonging to a man of Antwerp and 3 maunds, contain- 
ing 6 barrels of gunpowder of Mr. Over's were taken out. 
Mr. Colyns and he have ridden to Brussels to inform Mr. Am- 
bassador of it. The 56 hulks which be in Holland are to 
follow their fellows into Bretayn to St. Paul's Island. (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 146, p. 249.) 

1539, 9th April. Bewmares. Sir Richard Bulkeley to Cromwell. . . . 
The King's castles in North Wales are wholly unfurnished with 
means of defence, saving only 8 or 10 small pieces in the castle 
of Bewmares, with 2 or 3 barrels of powder and some short for 
them. ... I beg I may have a couple of gunners and some 
good ordnance and powder sent me, for the defence of the 
King's house of Bewmares, which stands in most jeopardy. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 150, p. 111-2.) 

1539, 23rd April. Antwerp. News from Antwerp. Has sent to Almayn 
to his fellow for patterns of hawks harnesses, and halberds, 
but there is no powder to be had thence. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 150, p. 190.) 

1539, 2ist May. John Over to Cromwell. . . . Asks Cromwell to help 
him to recover 12 barrels of gunpowder, which he bought here, 
for the King, and which is arrested. Mr. Vaughan, the Ambas- 
sador, has written to Cromwell about it. ... The Emperor's 
ships be still in Zealand, and they send daily gunstones, powder 
and other things thither. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 151, 
pp. 230-1.) 

1539, 2ist May. Brussels. Stephen Vaughan to Cromwell. Need not 
remind him of the confiscation of the powder laden by John 

1 Chapuys. 



CHRONOLOGY 189 

Over, as the Queen has promised to write to the Ambassador 
in England thereof. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 151, pp. 228-9.) 
1539, 26th May. Thomas Wusle, constable of Cragfergus, to Mr. 
Laurans, constable of Ardglas. . . . Requests " a cowpull of 
passawalans of your ordunans with sum powder " against the 
coming of the Scots. (S. P. Henry VI 1 1, Ireland, 8, pp. 35-38.) 

1539, 5th July. News from Antwerp. . . . Can send any quantity of 

harnesses, gunpowder, horse harnesses, and " sendelles " accord- 
ing to the " patrons " already sent. (S. P. Henry VIII, Galba B, 
x, 101. British Museum.) 

1540, 1 9th January. (Council in the North) to John Heron of Chip- 

chase. . . . Enclose a bill from Sir George Lawson to the mayor 
of Newcastle to furnish you with 20 bows, 20 sheaffof arrows 
and half a bushell of gunpowder as you desire. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 157, f. 67-68.) 

1540. Works at Calais. (The month i4th April, 31 Henry VIII 
to iith May, 32 Henry VIII.) " Empsyons" Payments to John 
Dosyn fer iron work ... a stock lock fer the dongeon, and a 
cupboard lock for a window "where as the gunpowder lieth." 
(S. P. Henry VIII, Accounts, etc., Exchequer, Q.R., 206/10.) 

1540, September. The King's Payments. . . . Charles Wolman w. 24th 

May, "fir viij barrels of sarpentyne powder," 16. i$s. ^d. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, Arundel MS. 97, f. 108. British Museum, 
f. 148.) 

1541. Scotland. . . . Workmen in Edinburgh Castle have long been 

making guns and other ordnance and they have a mill there 
that has made six barrels of gunpowder within three weeks since 
Easter. (S. P. Henry VIII, Add. MSS. 32,646, f. 167. British 
Museum. Hamilton Papers, No. 70.) 

1541. 3rd July. The Privy Council. . . . Business: Letter sent to Mr. 
Chancellor of the Tenths to deliver a demi " fowrre " of lead to 
Bernardyn de Valois, a like letter to the Master of the Ordnance 
to give him quarterly a barrel of saltpetre " to make powder and 



i 9 o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

pellets for their use whom the King's Majesty had appointed 
him to teach to shoot in a gun. . . ." (S. P. Henry VIII, 
Nicholas P. C. P. vii, 207.) 

1542, 7th July, Wallop to the Council. On Saturday i July at loa.m. 
passed by the King's forest, towards Fiennes, five, waggons 
laden with little barrels, like gunpowder barrels, and one with a 
short barrel like a puncheon, conducted by Mons. de Vervin, 
with 1 20 of Du Bies's horse. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 171, 
f. 104-7.) 

1542, 22nd, 23rd August. The Privy Council. . . . Business: Letter 
sent to Sir Chr. Morres to get ready for shipment to Berwick 
. . . |- last of corn powder and i last of serpentine powder. 
(S. P. Henry VIII. Dasent's A. P. C., 22.) 

1542, 27th Sept. The French are preparing Ships at Havre to send 

into Scotland, and a Scot has conveyed powder and munition 
in a hoy from Flanders. (S. P. Henry VIII. Add. MS. 
32, 647, f. 240. British Museum. Hamilton Papers, No. 
184.) 

i543(?). Ammunition in Ireland. Commission (issued in view of the 
dangerous practice of selling munitions of war to " Irishmen and 
other foreign persons") to John Travers, master of the Ord- 
nance, to view what store of powder and guns is in Dublin and 
other cities to port towns, and to take order with the governors 
for its safe keeping. . . . Endorsed: " A commission touching 
selling of guns, powder bows, arrows and other munitions to the 
Irishmen." (S. P. Henry VIII. Ireland, vol. ii, No. 19.) 

1543, ist May. The Queen of Hungary, to Chapuys. . . . Chapuys 

must again write plainly whether he holds it certain that the 
King will make the enterprise at the time mentioned, and what 
she is to furnish either of men of war victuals, powder or other 
munitions and carriage. . . . As for powder from Almain, it is 
obtained with great difficulty. Will willingly permit it being 
brought here, for the enterprise, but fears that it will be ill to 



CHRONOLOGY 191 

get. (S. P. Henry VIII. Transcripts from Vienna. Spanish 
Calendar, VI, ii, No. 132.) 

1543, 28th May. The Privy Council. Meeting at Hampton Court. 
. . . Letters sent to Sir Chr. Morres to deliver to Nic. Gains- 
forth, deputy of Lord Gray, captain of Hampnes castle, certain 
powder, etc. (detailed). (S. P. Henry VIII. Dasent's A. P. C., 
140.) 

1543, i/th June. Bruscelles. Seymour of Wotton to Henry VIII. . . . 
She (the Queen) rejoiced at the tidings of Scotland, and that as 
to the gunpowder and saltpeter, she would, on knowing the 
quantity pass it. ... (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 179, f. 47.) 

1543, 28th June. Spires. Mont to Henry VIII. . . . 1 20 great pieces 
of ordnance which he (the Emperor) had forged at Augsburg 
were brought to Spires eight days ago, and much powder and 
ball comes daily. . . . The Protestants have given the Emperor 
some waggon loads of powder, and permitted him to purchase 
much more in their cities. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 179, f. 142.) 

1543, 3rd October. Bruxell. Wotton to Henry VIII. ... A Hollander 

of Mein Clyke has taken at sea a great ship of Abarden in Scot- 
land, having on board gunpowder, and 50 hackbushes and two- 
hand swords belonging (as the master Andrew Bucke says) 
to the Governor of the North part of Scotland. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 181, f. 209.) 

i 544. Ordnance at Newcastle. . . . Fine corn powder i last, serpen- 
tine powder 3 last, gross corn powder, i last. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII. Shrewsbury MS. B., p. 221. Herald's College.) 

1544. The War. Warrant to Matthew Colthurst as treasurer of 
the Ordnance for the Middle Ward to pay to ... Charles 
Wolman, his expenses incurred during the time he was at 
Antwerpe choosing the King's powder. (S. P. Henry VIII. 
Add. MS. 5753, f. 92. British Museum.) 

1544, I4th March, Westminster. Sir Thomas Seymour to the Earl of 
Hartford. . . . As for the powder, perceives by Barweke "they 



192 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

have found to be sold in the town as much as shall serve him. 
(S. P. Henry VIII. Hatfield MS. 231, No. 65. Cal. of Cecil 
MSS., Part i, 91.) 

1544, 8th June. The Queen of Hungary to Chapuys. . . . Has just 
had news that the French have gone out from Luxemburg-, as 

<j o y 

capitulated, and that the Emperor's men have entered and found 
there 40 pieces of artillery of which 22 are cannons and demi- 
cannons, with 80 barrels of powder. (S. P. Henry VIII. 
Transcripts from Vienna. Spanish Cal. vii, No. 120.) 

1544, nth June. The Queen of Hungary to Chapuys. . . . As she 
advertised him by her last, the French went out from Lutzem- 
bourg on the 6th inst. between 6 and 7 a.m. to the number of 
1,400 (having previously allowed a list to be made of the 
artillery and munitions, being 41 cast pieces and 140 barrels of 
powder) without having spoilt anything. (S. P. Henry VIII. 
Transcripts from Vienna. Spanish Cal. vii. 121.) 

1544, 1 7th June. (4 o'clock in the morning in the Great Pynow(ce) 
Russell to (the Council). . . . Mr. Wyndham, captain of the 
New Barke, has just come to him, with others, saying that they 
are commanded to go Westwards but " they neither have 
powder, bows nor pikes. With so goodly a vessel, well furnished 
with ordnance, Wyndham has but half a barrel of powder which 
is (not) able to discharge four of his pieces." The captains 
have such scarcity of munition that they cannot help each 
other. Commanded Woodhouse to help Wyndham with two 
firkins of powder, as he is thus appointed to serve Westwards. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 188, f. 196.) 

1544, 3rd July. Commission to take the receipt by Sir John Gresham 
by warrant to Lord Chancellor Wriothesley 17 April. 35. 
Henry VIII of ^4,200 st. to be made over by exchange to 
Wm. Damessell in Antwerp for provision of gunpowder, and 
by warrant to Sir Ric. Riche, 22 May 36. Henry VIII of 
,3,800 likewise to be made over for gunpowder. (S. P. 



CHRONOLOGY 193 

Henry VIII. Patent Rolls, etc., Patent, 36 Henry VIII, 
pt. 8, mem. 14.) 

1544, 8th July. Portsmouth. Sir Anthony Knyvet to the Council. 
. . . Only half a last of powder is come, but good store of bows, 
arrows, bills and pikes. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 189, 

f - 2 33-) 
1544, loth July. Camp at Whitsande Baye. Suffolk, Gage and Browne 

to Henry VIII. . . . Departed when their number was still 
very small and they had only 14 small pieces and one barrel of 
powder. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 189, f. 251.) 

1544, 27th July. Henry VIII to Mary of Hungary. Having laid 
siege to Monstreul and encamped in person before Boullogne, 
although hoping soon to accomplish his purpose, he cannot tell 
how long his expedition will afterwards last ; and therefore begs 
to have for his money 40 lasts of powder, or as much as she 
can spare. As she has the means of re-making it within her 
Government sooner than he has, and her countries are protected 
by his armies she will not herself need much store of powder. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 190, f. 165.) 

1544, ist August. Annyk. Sir Ralph Evers to Shrewsbury. . . . 
Begs a warrant for 2 half- barrels of corn powder for Mr. Crowche 
and his 100 gunners, with 100 matches. They could not serve 
on Thursday last for lack of powder and matches. (S. P. 
Henry VIII, Add. MS. 32, 655, f. 1 29, British Museum. Hamil- 
ton Papers, II, No. 298.) 

1 544, 4th August. Camp before Monstrell. Norfolk and others to 
the Council. . . . Have great lack of the things contained in 
the enclosed bill, especially corn powder, of which is much 
occupied here. 

" An estimate of provision to be made for munition and 
Artillery " viz. 

Cornepowder 30 last at ^40, serpentyne powder 70 last 

at 35- 

o 



i 9 4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

On the back, in the same hand, are jottings of the amounts 
of bowstaves, etc., given in Section 2, and the price of powder. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 30.) 

1544, 4th August. Vaughan to Henry VIII. . . . The Council, by 
their letter brought by William Damsell, command payment to 
Damsell,of ,3,000 for 50 lasts of powder. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, 
sec. 191, f. 36.) 

1544, 4th August. Andwerpe. William Damesell to Paget. Mr. 
Stephen Vaghanne, for whom Paget gave him letters for 
,3,000 st. for provision of 50 lasts of gunpowder will only pay 
,3,000 Fl. saying that he is charged only for Flemish money. 
... If any further provision shall be made here the bargain 
should be made now as the price will rise shortly " because of 
the scarcity of saltpetre." (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 40.) 

1544, loth August. Camp before St. Digier. Wotton to Paget. . . . 
Describes how, on the ist inst. 30 French horsemen, each with 
a sack of gunpowder behind him, attempted a dash from the 
woods into the town; of whom 13 got through, 2 were slain 
and 10 taken. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 79.) 

1544, 27th August. Bruxelles. Mary of Hungary to Henry VIII. 
Has received his letter about having 40 lasts of gunpowder for the 
furniture of his two camps, and much regrets that she is unable 
to satisfy him, because of the great quantity with which she has 
had to furnish the Emperor, for use against the places he has con- 
quered, and in which he found very little. The Emperor still 
presses for more; but she has told Henry's ambassador that if 
any can be obtained from private merchants in Antwerp or else- 
where she will lend every assistance. (S. P. Henry VIII, 
sec. 191, f. 183.) 

1544, 28th August. Bruxelles. Corne to Paget. On the afternoon of 
the 26th inst, received Paget's of the 25th with a letter from 
the King to the Queen here by Francis the courier; and immedi- 
ately delivered the letter to the Queen, who said it was for 



CHRONOLOGY 195 

certain lasts of powder wherein she would consult the officers 
who provide powder for the Emperor. Begged her to help, 
either for love or money as the lack of powder now might be a 
great hindrance, and she answered that if it was to be had, she 
would not fail. . . . Could not get the answer until next 
evening, when Skyperus came to say that she found that all the 
powder ready outside the Emperor's camp, was not a fourth part 
of what the King desires, and it is sent to the Emperor daily as 
fast as it can be made, and so she would write to the King, but 
she would send to Andwarp, Hampsterdamme and Dordricke to 
take up for the King as much as could be found at the Emperor's 
price. If Mr. Damesell were sent thither something might be 
had, but here, "it goeth to th' Emperor faster than it is made." 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 186.) 

1544, 29th August, Andwerpe. William Damesell to Paget. . . . 
This afternoon at 3 p.m. coming from Macline, where he had 
been for 150 barrels of gunpowder, received Paget's letter. 
Since coming hither, has so hasted the makers that all the 55 
lasts of powder is here ready, waiting only for the 85 wagons to 
be sent from the master of the ordnance for its transport. Has 
just learnt that 40 of these wagons are come, which he will lade 
and despatch to-morrow if the weather is not too foul. Paget 
should see that the other 45 wagons are sent. . . . Has 2,000 
morispikes of good ash with well steeled irons ready to be sent 
with the gunpowder. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 190.) 

1544, 3ist August. Benjamin Gonson's Account. Paid to Wm. Bull- 
eye, owner and captain of the Martene of London, appointed 
wafter of the wool fleet diets for 14 days from i8th August, 
wages etc. (including 66 Ibs. of gunpowder " Spent in the same 
time of wafting ") ^29 Ss. jd. (S. P. Henry VIII. Add. MS., 
7,968 of 3 f.) 

1544, ist September, Andwerp. Vaughan to Paget. Whereas you 
lately wrote to Mr. Damsell for the speedy sending of gun- 



i 9 6 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

powder to the camp, no more is to be had here than Damsell 
had already bought. When you send for gunpowder it were 
good to send wagons to carry it, for here are none. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 231.) 

1544, 2nd September, Camp before Bullen. Hertford to the Council 
with the Queen. " (My Lords, wh)ereas I wraght unto yo r 
Lordshippes in mi layte letares that I trustid the Kynges Ma te 
shuld have Bulleyn bi Munday last att the fard(est). . . . you 
shall undarstand that bi (reson of moche f)owlle wethers that 
felle here and allso (our) lak off powdar hath causid the tyme 
to be defarid, the which I assur you in mi jugment and ... in 
others, it canot be long after the cuming of the powdar the 
which I trust shalbe here w* in towe dayes. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 233.) 

1544, 2nd September. Bruxelles. The Queen of Hungary to De 
Courrieres and Chapuys. The English ambassador here re- 
sident, being with her the day before yesterday, said that his 
master desired provision made here of 100 lasts of powder, and 
that she should despatch commission to the person charged 
therewith to obtain that powder at the Emperor's price, and 
grant him a good quantity of wagons to convey it to the King's 
camp. Finding the powder excessive, viz. 1,200 barrels, each 
of about 300 Ibs. she caused him to be shown yesterday that the 
King's last demand was only for 40 lasts, which still was a 
great deal, and she doubts that it will be ill to get here. How- 
ever, because he persisted for the 100 lasts, she has been 
content to grant it, but as for decreeing commission for the 
King's clerk, it was not the custom, even for the Emperor's 
provision, the bargains must be made with the merchants, but 
she would charge the receiver of the Emperor's artillery to go 
with the King's servants and assist them; and as for the 
wagons it was impossible to get them, considering the excessive 
quantity levied as well for the Emperor's camp as the King's 



CHRONOLOGY 197 

and that daily, others had to be levied to furnish the Emperor's 
camp, for the sending of money, beer, and other necessaries and 
that there was much better commodity of sending the powder 
by sea, if wagons could be had she would not hinder it, but 
give every assistance, and that she could not be pressed beyond 
what was possible. 

At first the Ambassador did not seem very well satisfied, 
and let out that if the King could not have what he needed he 
must raise his camp, since from his own realm, he could not 
obtain it. Finds this language troublesome, indicating that 
upon any want at the King's camp he would raise it and make 
her his excuse, and she requires them, very instantly, to speak 
of it to the King, moderately, and make him understand that 
she has given every assistance possible to his affairs, and is still 
ready to do so; in proof of which she has charged the said 
receiver of artillery to assist his men in obtaining powder and 
transport for it, either by ship or wagons. Prays them to make 
every good endeavour in this, and advertise her fully of the 
issue. (S. P. Henry VIII. Transcript from Vienna, Spanish 
Cal., vii, 192.) 

1544, 2nd September, Andwerp. Vaughan to Paget. Here is no 
gunpowder to be had in all these quarters unless the King will 
tarry the making thereof; and if Mr. Damsell is to have charge 
to buy any hereafter, we must leave him money, being com- 
manded to bring what we have to the camp. We appointed 
Damsell lately to receive .5,000 to pay for what he has already 
bought, and cannot leave him money for more until we know 
whether the King will tarry the making of it; But I could come 
and leave the rest of the money in the hands of Dymock and 
Locke to bring after. Desires instruction by bearer whom 
Damsell sends. . . . P.S. It is a great cost to carry gunpowder 
by land; it were far better to send it by water, and would be 
sooner there. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 191, f. 237.) 



198 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1544, 3rd September. Camp before Bologne. Chapuys and De Cour- 
rieres to Charles V. ... Presented the Queen of Hungary's 
letters containing the excuse of the 40 lasts of powder which 
he had demanded, with which excuse he was greatly satisfied, 
especially as the Queen offered all possible assistance for the 
getting of all that could be got in private hands. (S. P. 
Henry VIII. Transcript from Vienna. Spanish Cal. vii, 193.) 

1544, 4th September. Bruges. John Husee to Paget. Came hither 
yesternight, and found Henry Atkinson and certain wagons 
laden with powder, eight more of which came this morning, 
making in all 44 laden with 215 barrels. Took two barrels out 
of every wagon laden with five, and therewith laded some of the 
wagons he brought and saw them safely out of the town, trusting 
that they will be at Calece on Saturday night. Sent the residue 
of the empty wagons toward Eclowe where the wagons last 
laden in Antwerp will be to-night, which shall likewise be sent 
forward in all haste. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 192, f. 15.) 

1544, 5th September. Camp before Bulleyn. The Council with the 
King to the Council with the Queen. The King has bestowed 
upon his sieges so much powder, that all he brought is spent 
and also a great proportion lately provided out of Flanders and 
borrowed from Callais or Guisnes, and he is forced to make a 
further furniture out of Flanders and to send Ant. Auchar 
yesterday into England to see what may be spared out of 
castles and bulwarks within the survey of the Cinq Portes. 
Lest all may not be sufficient, it is to be declared to the Queen 
that the powder there in charge of the Master of the Ordnance 
is to be sent hither, with as much as may be spared from the 
bulwarks of Gravesend; and also all ships, strangers or English, 
in the Thamise are to be searched, and their powder bought or 
borrowed. All gunpowder makers are to be set to work to 
make a great proportion. The King has bargained in Flanders 
for 200 last to be made. . . . (S. P. Henry VI 1 1, sec. 192, f. 18.) 



CHRONOLOGY 199 

1544, 6th September. Camp near Bullen. Sir Richard Riche to 
Wriothesley. . . . If powder come, we shall make the assault the 
latter end of this week and "the town must be the King's." 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 192, f. 30.) 

1544, 7th September. Oking. The Council with the Queen to the 
Council with the King. Send letters herewith which arrived 
this day from the North. Their letters just delivered signify 
that the powder remaining here in the Tower or in the ships, 
except a mean furniture, is to be sent over, and the Queen has 
thereupon dispatched Sir Thomas Arondell to London to take 
order for the sending of the powder in the Tower (nigh 20 lasts) 
and also like order for the ships and bulwarks. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 192, f. 38.) 

i544,8th September. Henry VIII to the Queen. . . . Detained her 
servant so long, hoping to send by him good news of the taking 
of the town, which has been delayed by the not coming of 
the powder out of Flanders. Looks for the powder in two 
or three days, and then to write some good news. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, Calig. E. iv, f. 55. British Museum. Rymer, xv, 
50.) 

1544, 9th September. Gunpowder. Memorandum of delivery into the 
ship Clement of London 9 Sept. 36 Hen. VIII of 2^ lasts of 
fine corne powder, 4 lasts of coarse corne powder and 23^- lasts 
of serpentyn powder. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 192, f. 55.) 

1544, 1 6th September. Camp before Monstrell. Norfolk, Russell and 
Cheyney to the Council. . . . Candische says that the 20 last 
of powder now received with all that was here already, will not 
last the ordinance here for four day's battery, and therefore no 
more great pieces should be sent unless powder and bullets come 
with them. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 192, f. 99.) 

1544, October i6th. Calays. The Privy Council at Calais to Sir Ric. 
Southwell. Require him to pay Jas. Moyer master of the 
John Baptist of Lee, for freight of 270 barrels of gunpowder 



200 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

from AndwerptoBoulloyn^H. (S. P. Henry VIII. Add. MS. 
5,753, f. 28. British Museum.) 

1544, 2oth November. Andwerp. William Damesell to Sir Thomas 
Seymour. "A copy of a letter sent unto your mastership the 
27. of the last month, whereof I have yet no answer." His letter 
dated Dover i ith inst. came to hand only this day showing that 
the powder to be provided from hence is to be sent to the Tower 
of London. Will do his utmost to accomplish this, when the 
seas are more clear of the French ships of war. Has only 730 
more barrels of powder to receive upon his bargain. The money 
he received from Stephen Vaghan for another 1,000 barrels he 
was commanded by Norfolke, Suffolke, and others of the Coun- 
cil at Calleis the 6th inst. to pay to the Count of Buren here, in 
full contentation of his soldiers that have served against France. 
Has practised to see what further quantity may be had here, 
and learns from men who have factors in Ducheland and at 
Hambrough, Breme and Lubecke, from whence the saltpetre 
comes, that they can deliver 100 lasts in six months beginning 
the last of February as follows: on 28 Feb. 38 lasts, 15 April, 
25 lasts, 31 May 25 lasts, and 30 June 12 lasts. If possible they 
will deliver 50 lasts more, but they will only be bound for the 
100. Desires to know the King's pleasure whether to go through 
with this bargain and from whom to receive the money; for ,2,000 
is required in prest. If the King will have 50 or 60 lasts of salt- 
petre besides, Damesell will provide it some other way ; for if 
these men knew it, they would not be bound for the 100 last, no, 
not if he offered " 30 guilderns for every honderthe." Must 
answer these men within 14 days. Andwerpe 27. Oct. 

Sent the above letter on the 27th ult. and sends the copy 
as he has had no answer to it. Has since laden 400 barrels of 
gunpowder and 300 hacquebutes to be delivered at the Tower 
of London, and has sent to the Council at Calais for wafters for 
it, which he expects in Zelonde to-day or to-morrow. Desires to 



CHRONOLOGY 201 

know if the King will have any further provision of gunpowder 
or saltpetre and that order may be taken for the payment of it. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 195, f. 148.) 

1544, 3rd December. Bruxelles. Carne to the Council. . . . Has ob- 
tained a passport for 60 lasts of powder and 1,000 hacque- 
butes, and sent it to Wm. Damesell at Andwerp. . . . (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec, 195, f. 190.) 

1544, gth December. Andwerp. Vaughan to the Council. . . . The Scots 
make many voyages to Hamboroughe, where they have bought 20 
lasts of gunpowder and make all their provision. It were "an 
easy thing to lighten them by the way, either coming or going." 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 195, f. 204.) 

1544, 1 5th. December. Andwerp. Vaughan to the Council. . . . Mr. 

Damesell is perplexed between two commissions from their 
Honors, one to buy gunpowder and the other to buy saltpetre 
and no gunpowder, because, upon his first commission, he had 
bargained for the powder. As it is not possible to provide any 
quantity of saltpetre from hence, Vaughan has counselled him 
not to depart from his bargain of the powder until sure of the 
saltpetre; for otherwise he should neither buy the same powder 
at the same price nor be trusted any more by the merchants he 
bought it from. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 196, f. 4.) 

1545. Shrewsbury, Tunstall and Sadler to Henry VIII. Enclose a 
letter from Sir John Lowther, captain of Carlisle castle, showing 
the lack of powder, shot and munition there which "cannot be 
supplied in these parts." (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 199, f. 192.) 

1545, 5th January. Andwerp. Vaughan to Paget. . . . Wm. Damesell 
has great quantity of powder to be sent into England and abides 
to know whether wafters will be appointed for it. " It were time 
I promise you, that it were gone from hence; for the people 
murmur and grudge at the conveyance of so great a quantity 
from hence, themselves not knowing what need they may have ; 
and what toy may fall in th' Emperor's head to stay or prohibit 



202 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

the conveyance of powder hereafter, even when ye should much 
need it who can tell? (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 197, f. 28.). 

1545, loth March. Bruxelles. Paget to Henry VIII. Scory came 
... to say that the Emperor would not deny license to send 
hence Henry's munition, provided that he was not himself dis- 
furnished of powder thereby, as he was like to be, since Damoy- 
sel demanded 100 last, a quantity not to be gotten in all this 
country. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 199, f. 3.) 

1 544(5)> 1 4th March. Darneton. Shrewsbury, Tunstall, and Sadler 
to Henry VIII. . . . The Spaniards being all hacquebutiers, will 
consume much gunpowder, and there is here great lack of corn 
powder, matches and spears ... all the Border holds are very 
slenderly furnished with powder. (S. P. Henry VIII, Add. 
MS. 32, 656, f. 203; British Museum, Hamilton Papers, II, 
No. 426.) 

J 545> 1 9th March. Andwarpe. William Damesell to Henry VIII. 
Has attended Mr. Secretary Paget, at Bruxels, by whose 
motion he is set at liberty and has passport to convey hence 
1000 barrels of gunpowder provided for the King, and also 
4000 pikes and certain hacquebutes. With these has, by 
Paget's advice freighted two ships of Andwerpe which will be 
ready to depart in five days. Begs that ships of war may be 
sent to the Zeland coast to waft them ; for if the powder lie long 
laden it will be both dangerous and chargeable. This bargain, 
as he has advertised sundry of the Council and the Master of 
the Ordnance amounts to ,12,000 sterling, of which he has only 
received ,1,400. Begs that ,4,000 or 5,000 more may be 
sent hither by Sir John Gresham or other, so that he may pay 
what is owing, most of which should have been paid long since. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 199, f. 63.) 

1544(5), 25th March. William Damesell to Paget. ... A French 
gentleman . . . intends to buy in Zeland a small pynke, wherein 
he will, with a dozen mariners, go into England (as if to serve 



CHRONOLOGY 203 

the King) in company with the hoys laden with gunpowder 
among which he will at sea " cast certain fireworks to destroy 
the ships." ... I desire you, if it seem good and the time 
serves, to demand another passport, before your departure, for 
more powder. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 199, f. 95.) 

1545, 4th April. Andwerpe. Wm. Damesell to Wriothesley and 
Petre. As the 1,000 barrels of powder and other the King's 
munition could not conveniently be laden in two ships he 
freighted one more, and these three ships laden with powder . . . 
lie in Zeland in company with the King's ships sent to conduct 
them, waiting for a fair wind. As the value amounts to ,8,000 
st. and could not be so secretly laden but that it is known both to 
Frenchmen and others, he doubts " that there is some ships of 
war appointed to lie in wait for these said ships," and thinks two 
ships very few to waft so great a charge. Suggests that the 
Council might command other of the King's ships in the Narrow 
seas to lie about Zeeland until these are passed out of danger. 
Concerning "the stay for the provision of any more powder" 
cannot conveniently do anything until these ships are gone, when 
he will, if possible, decline the receipt of any more. (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 199, f. 186.) 

1545, 2oth April. Andwerp. William Damesell to Paget. As for the 
rest of the powder to be received, lately desired Paget's favor 
that, after his faithful service herein, he might not now sustain 
any such " soyle or spott" to his rebuke; and desires to know 
the King's answer. It will not be prejudicial to his Majesty to 
have store of it, the price being so reasonable that the Prince 
himself here cannot be served better cheap. (S. P. Henry VIII, 
sec. 200, f. 39.) 

1545. 28th April. Andwerpe. William Damesell to Paget. Has by 
sundry letters desired Paget to learn the King's pleasure con- 
cerning " a rest of powder " to be received here and also for 
^"2,000 st. required to pay debts for powder and munition, for 



204 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

which he is daily pressed. Requires the said ,2,000 or rather 
;6,ooo for payment both of what he owes and what he will 
receive, so that he need not trouble the King further. . . . 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 200, f. 103.) 

1 545, (May ?). The Isle of Wight. " Munitions assigned and appointed 
by the King's Majesty to be delivered out of his Highness's 
store within the Tower of London, to the hands and charge of 
Richard Woorsley, captain of the Isle of Wight, for the more 
strength and better furniture of the said Isle" viz. bows, 100, 
sheaves of arrows 200, bowstrings " aftre the rate " bills 200, 
pikes 200, hagbuttes furnished 60, cornpowder for the same 4 
half barrels, serpentyne powder half a last. (S. P. Henry VIII, 
sec. 212, f. 185.) 

1545, 1 8th June. The Privy Council. Meeting at Greenwich. 
Warrant to the Master of the Ordnance for delivery of 3,000 Ibs. 
of old saltpetre to Mr. Bowes and Mr. Knight vice treasurers of 
the Tower. (S. P. Henry VIII, Dasent's A. P. C. 196.) 

1545, 2nd July. London. Van der Delft to Mary of Hungary. The 
King is indescribably annoyed at the refusal of a trifle like the 
license to export from Antwerp the powder he has bought. To 
gratify him in this would have a great effect. (S. P. Henry 
VIII, Spanish Cal. viii, No. 84.) 

(1545), 2nd July. Wormbs. Bucler and Mont to Henry VIII. He (the 
Emperor) yesterday despatched an officer to Argentine to buy 
all the gunpowder in those parts. . . (S. P. Henry VIII, 
sec. 203, f. 46.) 

1545, 4th August. Stephanus de Haschenpergk to Henry VIII. . . . 
Has invented ... a way of making saltpetre, otherwise called 
black vitriol, in one place without going about the realm 
searching for it. ... (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 205, f. 70.) 

(1545) 1 8th August. Lyncoln Place. Corn powder for the North. 
Warrant by the Council in London to the treasurer and cham- 
berlains of the Exchequer, to pay Michell Mathewe servant of 



CHRONOLOGY 205 

Sir Ant. Knevett, lieutenant of the Tower, 10 10^. for trans- 
porting certain corn powder to the Earl of Hertford. (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 206, f. 17.) 

1545, 1 9th August. Andwarpe. Chamberlain to Paget. This day on 
his return from Bruxelles with Pagets mares and wagon, and 
passport for them, a woman who serves in a house, where 
certain Frenchmen or French practisers lodge, came to him de- 
claring that . . . Joseph Chevalier, John Oldrino and Michael van 
Rosendale, lodgers in the house where she dwells have hired 
three persons to offer service at Bolloigne as gunners or gunners' 
mates and there set fire to all the gunpowder when the French 
army shall be before the town. . . . (S. P. Henry VII I, sec. 206, 

f. 39.) 

(1545), 22nd August. Andwerp. Vaughan to Paget. . . . Hear daily 
of the French King's practices, now to fire the gunpowder in 
Bulleyn and other towns, now to corrupt those in charge of the 
powder, and now to corrupt Italians and Spaniards to deceive 
the King. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 206, f. 194.) 

1545, 27th August. Andwerpe. Wm. Darnesell to Paget. According 
to your letter. I have travailed in the receipt of ^"22,000 sterling, 
and it may please you to thank the Bonnvise and Salvage, 
whose respondents here have taken great pains. This day we 
shall finish the receipt. Since my last letters to you I have 
despatched three hoys laden with 210 barrels of powder, and 
have news that they are arrived in London; so that now 454 
barrels are safely there, and 146 remain to be despatched in 
two other hoys, "dum (?) iiij c lasts of salt and iiij c polder." ' 
(S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 207, f. 24.) 

1545, 3rd September. Andwerp. Wm. Damesell to Paget. Has this 
day laden the residue of the King's powder and munition in 
three sundry hoys which shall be full laden with other mer- 
chants' goods and ready to depart within two or three days, by 
1 The words are interlined, apparently in a different hand. 



206 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

which time the writer will have finished all his business here. 
. . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 207, f. 79.) 

1545, 9th September. Andwerp. Vaughan to Henry VIII. ... By 
gathering so great a heap of money, and buying up all the 
gunpowder in Almayn, and conveying artillery hither, he 
(Emperor) means "somewhat." . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 
207, f. 115.) 

( 1 545), 1 5th September. Franckforde. Bucler and Mont to Henry VIII. 
Riffenbergh bought at the fair here, 1,200 pikes, 3 centeniers of 
gunpowder and 600 harness, but could get no more. (S. P. 
Henry VIII, sec. 207, f. 199.) 

1544, 6th October. Windsor. John Bowyer, senr. and John Bowyer, 
junior saltpetre makers. Fee of 6d. a day for life from the 
Anunciation of St. Mary last and from Easter l^st, respectively. 
(S. P. Henry VIII, Patent Rolls, 37 Henry VIII, pt. 16, 
mem. 10.) 

1545, loth October. Kilmaynam. St. Leger to the Council. Those 

(bows) sent out of England were so worm eaten that they would 
scant hold the bending, and the cornpowder such that it would 
only mar the guns, so that all last year we were driven to buy 
what we occupied. . . . (S. P. Ireland, Henry VIII, vol. xii, 
No. 22.) 

(1545), i9th October. Andwerp. Vaughan to the Council. . . . The 
Commissaries write to him to send 10 barrels of corn powder to 
Mowns in Henault, as there is none in all the army. Will send 
it away this day. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 209, f. 69.) 

1545, 22nd October. Florines. Fane and Chamberlain to the Council. 
Showed RifTenberghe that this protracting of time might be 
suspected to be a practice of the enemy ; and had consumed the 
money, albeit that they looked for more by Mr. Averie "laying " 
to him his negligence in saying nothing about victuals or the 
lack of powder until now at the enemy's doors. His excuse is 
that he was led out of the way and that everywhere he sought 



CHRONOLOGY 207 

for provision but could not get it. Lying here these three days, 
they have, through a gentleman sent by the Cp. of Liege, got 
six barrels of powder; and Riffenberghe has six more from 
Andwarpe. . . . (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 209, f. 94.) 

1545, 29th December. The Privy Council. Warrant to Sir Thos. 
Seymour to deliver to Edm. Modie 2 barrels of corn powder, 
and . . . last of serpentine powder for " the shot of the ord- 
nance at Arclif Bulwerk and the basilisco there." (S. P. 
Henry VIII. Dasent's A. P. C., 300.) 

1550, 1 9th September. A warrant to deliver ^180 to Hance Lange, 
merchant stranger for 3 lasts of Serpentyne powder at ^60 the 
last. (Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. iii, 127.) 

1550, 5th November, and 1552, 2nd April. References to fine salt- 

petre of Naples. (Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. iii, 153, and 
Cal. iv, 1 1.) 

JSS 1 * T 3 tn March. A letter to Sir Francis Fleming and Anthony 
Anthony to receive into the tower such powder as Mr. Yorke 
shall deliver them and to bestow it well. (Acts of the Privy 
Council, Cal. iii, 235.) 

1551, 6th April. Letter to William Dansell (the English agent in 
Flanders) he is removed from his office for his slackness but 
he is to receive and pass certain powder into his warehouse. 
(Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. iii, 252.) 

1552, 3rd August. The Tower. Sir P. Hoby to Cecil. Miseries in 
the office of ordnance for want of money, particularly in the case 
of Ch. Wolman, the gunpowder maker. (S. P. Dom. Edward VI, 
vol. xiv, No. 56.) 

1552, 7th August. Letter to William Dansell he is to confer with 
Sir Thomas Chamberlayn (the King's Ambassador to the 
Regent) as to the disposal of the King's gunpowder in Flanders. 
(Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. iv, 108.) 

1552, 1 6th October. Letter to Mr. Dansell. He is to deliver to 
Ranff Chamberlain the King's powder remaining in his hands 



208 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

for transport to England. (Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. iv, 
144.) 

1554, 27th March. Thomas Gresham to be instructed to purchase in 
Flanders "salte petre in roche and 20 laste of well chosen 
serpentyne poulder." (Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. v, 

3 and 4-) 

1 554-1 555, February. Henry Reve is said to have erected a gunpowder 
mill upon a parcel of pasture ground called <( The Crenge " in 
Rotherhithe, which had formerly belonged to the Abbey of 
Bermondsey, and to which Reve was alleged to have no just 
title. He was accused, too, of having weakened the banks 
against the mill by reason of the great abundance of water 
which came in at the flood gates and sluices made for it, etc. 
(Court of Requests, Proc. Phil, and Mary, Bundle 24, No. 119.) 

1556, 23rd November. Letter to Gresham to send over gonnepoulder. 
(Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. vi, 22.) 

1558, 1 8th April. Letter to Gresham. Thanking him for his diligence 
in providing saltpetre. (Acts of the Privy Council, Cal. vi, 306.) 

1558, 1 2th December. Sir Richard Southwell to Sir William Cecill. 

Is busy with the offers of serving the Queen with saltpetre; he 
will make his report next day. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. i, 30.) 
Memorial of the supply of saltpetre, powder, etc., remain- 
ing in store, and of the quantities required from abroad. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. i, 31.) 

1559. The Powder Makers to the Privy Council. They state the 
prices at which they can undertake to supply Her Majesty with 
gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. viii, 12.) 

Note of a tender for the supply of gunpowder, by a manu- 
facturer. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. viii, 13.) 

(1560.) Suit of the town of Plymouth shewing that they have to 
maintain the fort on St. Nicholas' Island, with 8 pieces of great 
ordnance, receiving only 20 worth of gunpowder etc. yearly, 
whereas (by grant of Henry VIII) they used always to have 



CHRONOLOGY 209 

^39 IQS. loci, yearly. (S. P. Dom. Addenda Elizabeth, vol. ix, 
No. 86.) 

1560, 1 8th April. Gresham writing to Cecil. "Sir, I wrote you in 
my last of the great scarssite of powdyr that ys here to be hade. 
The Quene's Majestic should do well to macke out of hande, 
iiij or 27Z my lies for the macking of powdyr for the servize of her 
Highness' turne, if the warres contynew, or this breach of 
amytie should channce betwixt her Majestic and King Philipe." 
(S. P. Foreign, Elizabeth, vol. xiii under date.) 

1560, 1 6th June. Survey of Gunpowder in the Tower, etc. (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Marquis of Salisbury, rep. 4 t 
p. 205.) 

1560, 4th October. Particulars of sundry parcels of powder, saltpetre 

and match received into the office of Ordnance within the 
Tower, for the queen's service, from 24th July. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. xiv, 3.) 

Sir William Cecill to Lord Ambrose Duddeley. To 
furnish certain strangers, at the request of Sir T. Gresham, with 
a quantity of sulphur, at an advanced price, to finish a certain 
amount of gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xiv, 4.) 
1561 (about). Gunpowder Mills at Long Ditton by George Evelyn, 
grandfather of Sir John. Also mills at Leigh Place, near 
Godstone. Mills at Faversham existed at the same time. 
(Hart, loc. cit.} 

There is also a lease in the reign of Elizabeth for a gun- 
powder mill and a great pond at Rotherhithe in the occupation 
of Francis Lea, but late in the tenure of Thomas Lee, deceased 
(see 1563, 23rd January.) (Lee was in later documents referred 
to as Lea, a Lee, and Leigh.) 

1561, March. Tender (by Marco Antonio) for supplying the Queen 

with, amongst other things, brimstone and saltpetre of Naples. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xvi, 32. Acts 33-34 relate to same 
tender.) 

p 



210 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Remarks by William Bromefield on the above tender, and 
on the prices demanded. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xvi, 

35-) 
1561, 2nd March. John Thomworth, of Waltham, is in treaty, on behalf 

of Queen Elizabeth, for the purchase of saltpetre, sulphur, and 
bow staves for barrels. Saltpetre was offered to him at $ los. od. 
per cwt., which he declares to be too dear. (S. P. Foreign 
Series, under date.) 

1561, i3th March. Patent granted to Gerrard Honricke, an Almayne 
captain, for having taught making of saltpetre for ,300. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xvi, 29, also printed in "Engineering," of 
1 5th June, 1894.) 

Statement of the true and perfect art of making saltpetre 
grow in cellars, barns, etc., or in lime and stone quarries. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xvi, 29. Printed in " Engineer.") 

Articles of agreement between the Queen and Gerard 
Honrick, a German captain, who understands the making of 
saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xvi, 30. Duplicate, Ibid., 

31.) 

1561, 1 5th March. William Bromefield to Sir William Cecill. 
Advises him to conclude a bargain with Mark Antonio, for a 
certain quantity of saltpetre and bow-staves at reduced prices. 
(Ibid., 36.) 

Particulars of prices at which Mark Antonio has finally 
agreed to deliver certain quantities of bow-staves, brimstone, 
and saltpetre. (Ibid., 37.) 

1561, loth August. Queen Elizabeth gave her bargain with Gerard 

Honrick to Philip Cockeram and John Barnes. (" Engineering," 
loc. cit.) 

1562, 26th February. The Marquis of Winchester to Sir William 

Cecill. A scheme has been presented to himself and the Lieu- 
tenant of the Ordnance for making gunpowder. Encloses 
Tender of three gunpowder makers, who had erected five new 



CHRONOLOGY 211 

powder mills (Bryan Hogge, Robert Thomas, and Francis a 
Lee) for supply of gunpowder for the Queen's service. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. xxi, 561.) 

Lee is in 1578 described as of Rotherhithe (Redriff), and 
was still gunpowder maker to the Queen. It is possible he then 
owned the mill which Reve had set up some time before 1555. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cxxiv, 8. See also 1563, 23rd June.) 

1562, 25th August. An original royal licence to John Mangleman, a 

German, and Gerebrand Floris, for finding out earth proper for 
making brimstone. (Lansd. MSS., No. 5, Art. 64.) 

1563, 23rd June. Particulars for a lease for 21 years to Francis Lee 

of one tenement and mill, with the buildings thereto adjacent, 
called the " gonpowder myll " together with the wharf opposite 
the said tenement (100 feet by 42 feet) together with a large 
pond called " the Gonpowder myll ponde," and a watercourse 
leading therefrom to the mill, late in the tenure of Thomas Lee 
deceased, and now of Francis Lee, his son, lying on the East of 
the town of Rotherhithe, near the Thames there, and newly 
built by the said Thomas, at his own cost, upon an empty 
pightell of land there, enclosed with a ditch, containing ^ acre 
of waste land. 

The premises have been occupied by the said Lees, and by 
William, brother of Francis, for 20 years, for " the only use of 
making gunpowder." Francis Lee has produced "writing" 
under the signet of Henry VIII signed by the King dated 
1 9th March and supposed to be in the 27th year of his reign 
erected to the Bishop of St. Asaph, then Abbot of Bermondsey, 
requiring him to make out a lease of the premises to the said 
Thomas Lee, then servant to His Majesty, which lease the said 
Abbot never made, nevertheless the said Thomas Lee, upon the 
King's direction builded up the premises at a cost of ^200, and 
since his death his sons expended about ^40 in the repair of the 
same, especially about the wharf. 



212 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

The art of making gunpowder is so casual and dangerous, 
and the land otherwise valueless, so petitioner begs, etc. etc. 

(Augmentation Office : Particulars for Leases (Surrey) Roll 
139, No. 23). 

1564, 3rd April. Edward Randolph, Lieutenant of the Ordnance to 
Sir William Cecill. Concerning the contract for gunpowder for 
the Queen's service. Encloses Estimate of the rate of a last 
of corn powder, made within the realm. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
vol. xxxiii, 40.) 

1566, 1 2th November. Patent for Francis Lee, gunpowder maker, to 

have the office of one of the 4 master gunners in the Tower of 
London, lately occupied by Christopher Gold, deceased, with a 
fee of \2d. a day. (Exchequer of Receipt, Auditors' Patent 
Book, ix, fol. 140.) 

1567, 2 ;th July. Clough writing to Gresham. Upon Wednesday past 

was proclaimed here, that no man, uppon payne of (loss of) lyfe 
and goods, shall either make or sell any powder, neither here, 
nor in no part of thys country, saving at Macklyn, in the King's 
mills, (where) all the powder (is) to be made. And for that every 
honnest man should have powder to journey withal, there 
shulde be appointed one or two in every town to sell powder; 
and these to come to Macklyn for the powder, by 1,000 li. 
weight, or 2,000 li. at the most; andtowryte up all their names 
that the powder is solde unto, and when they do fetch new, to 
bring the names of them that the olde was sold unto. So that, 
from henceforth, there shall no powder be made here to be 
sold; so that they were wont to live by making of powder are 
now undone. Wishing that and if they would come into 
Englande they might have a place appointed to make powdyr 
and lysence to sell the same to all men that cometh! Which if 
they had, I wolde not doubt but they wolde go into Englande ; 
and where they go, the great quantity of saltpeter and brym- 
stone wyll follow. For that and if they do bring it here, they 



CHRONOLOGY 213 

must sell to the Court at such a price as they wyll; which the 
merchants cannot away withal. (S. P. Foreign, Elizabeth, vol. 
xcii, under date.) 

(1569), 1 9th June. Articles to be considered by the commissioners of 
musters. i^ lb. of lead will make 30 bullets for a calliver, and 
i lb. of powder will serve for 30 times shooting, . . . powder at 
9^. per lb. (S. P. Dom. Addenda Elizabeth, vol. xiv, No. 83.) 

1572. Some dealers in brimstone to the Lords of the Treasury are 
contracting with the (Keswick?) copper mines to extract brim- 
stone from their copper, etc. (Lansd. MSS., No. 14, Art. 13.) 

1572, May. A Certificate of how the last supply of corn and serpentine 
powder brought into the North parts was spent, and by whose 
warrants, since the 28th of November, 1568. Corn powder, 
ii lasts, 620 lb.; serpentine powder, n lasts, 1,620 lb. (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS., pt. ii, p. 18.) 

1574, ist May. Note of corn powder bought of Henry Dale, haber- 
dasher, with the prices of the same. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
vol. xcv, 84.) 

T 575 (?) Note of the money that may be saved by the purchase of powder, 
saltpetre, and other ordnance stores abroad. (S. P. Dom. Eliza- 
beth, vol. cvi, 41.) 

T 575- Petition of Francis Leigh, gunpowder maker to the Council 
No powder being made in England, provision has to be made 
in foreign parts, which in the Duke of Alva's time was stayed. 
Petitioner then made 100 lasts with saltpetre gathered in this 
realm, and sold it for 8d. and 9^. a pound, by which on the 
whole ,4,000 was saved; but the Queen prefers paying ^10 a 
last more to having her subjects houses digged for saltpetre. 
Yet the powder sent over often spoils, through not being made 
of refined saltpetre. The redress would be to send for saltpetre 
from beyond sea, of which powder could be made as required, 
thus avoiding such mishaps as happened at Malines and Venice, 
by the firing of powder. It would not waste if sent with skill. 



2i 4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Requests a licence to import 20 or 30 lasts of saltpetre yearly, 
and have the making of the powder, in recompense of the former 
saving of him of 4,000, because he and his father and brother 
have been for 50 years the greatest dealers therein, and he has 
all the implements which will otherwise be useless. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, Addenda, vol. xxiv, No. 50.) 

1576. William Herlle's account of a grant for 20 years to one Buckholt 
for making sulphur. (Lansd. MSS., No. 22, Art. 21. See also 
Ibid., Art. 20, 23-28, 30. For Wade and Herlle's patent, see 
Hulme, " Law Quarterly Review," April, 1896.) 

1576, February. Proposed bill in Parliament for confirming a patent 

to John Bovyat, of London, of the making of saltpetre and gun- 
powder of stone, mineral, and other substances not now used 
therein, instead of earth and mudwall, the same being without 
moisture and not furring ordnance. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
Addenda, vol. xxiv, No. 68.) 

1577. Offer of Cornelis (Cornelius de Vos ?) to make saltpetre in the 
New Forest. (Acts of Privy Council, 1577, p. 142.) 

1577, rgth August. Sir Francis Walsyngham to Lord Burghley. Has 
nominated Christopher Huddesdon to receive the ,20,000 
appointed by Her Majesty for the purchase of gunpowder and 
saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cxv, 7.) 

1577, 2Oth August. Warrants for the payment and employment of the 

sum of 20,000 to the person nominated by Mr. Walsyngham 
for the purchase of gunpowder and saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Eliza- 
beth, vol. cxv, 8.) 

1578, 24th March. Warrant under the Privy Signet for the trans- 
portation to Portugal of forty quintals of gunpowder at the 
request of the Ambassador of the King of Portugal. (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. Cecil. MSS., pt. ii, p. 174.) 

1578, 3rd April. Warrant under the Privy Signet to the Marquis of 
Haurech for the transportation of gunpowder and bullets of 
iron. (Hist. MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS. pt. ii, p. 175.) 



CHRONOLOGY 215 

1578, 1 2th April. Warrant under the Privy Signet for the transport of 

gunpowder and saltpetre to the town of Ghent. (Hist. MSS. 

Comm. Cecil MSS., pt. ii, p. 176.) 
1578, 6th May. Licence for Portuguese Ambassadors to transport 

1,000 weight of gunpowder. (Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of 

the Marquis of Salisbury, rep. 4, p. 217.) 

1578, 1 5th May. Examination of Francis Lee of Redreff, gunpowder 

maker to the Queen, relative to the debts owing to him by Mr. 
Henry Howard. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cxxiv, No. 8.) 

1579, loth August. Account of the remain of powder in the office of 

ordnance in the Tower, exclusive of the powder brought in by 
Henry Dale, merchant. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cxxxi, 59.) 

1580, 1 9th February. A letter to Barnard Randall, Thomas Gardner, 

and the Connestable in reference to the patent for glass granted 
to Jacomo Vertolini "Complaint is made unto their Lordships 
by the said Jacomo that one Sebastian Orlandini and one John 
Smithe have verie lately sett up a furnace at the gonpouder mille 
by Ratcliffe, intending to make glasses." They are, therefore, 
" to repeire unto the said gonpowder mylle " and destroy the 
furnace. (Acts of the Privy Council, xii, 337.) 

1581, January. Petition of John Bovyat to the Queen, praying that 

his grant for the making of saltpetre and gunpowder may be 
confirmed by Act of this present Parliament. (S. P. Dom. Eliza- 
beth, vol. cxlvii, No. 42.) 

1581, iith February. Note of powder received from Christopher 
Hudson and others into the office of Ordnance. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. clxvii, No. 50.) 

1582, 2nd February. Warrant for exporting 500 quintals of powder. . . . 

(Hist. MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS., pt. ii, p. 500.) 

1582, 9th August. Warrant for exporting ordnance, etc., with annexed 

List including 48 hundred of powder. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 
Cecil MSS., pt. ii, p. 514.) 

1583, loth June. Henry Pope to Sir Francis Walsyngham. Reports 



216 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

the success of experiments tried at Fulstone for the manufacture 
of saltpetre from a mineral substance found in the cliff. Hopes 
to make a ton of saltpetre by Midsummer. (S. P. Dom. Eliza- 
beth, vol. clxi, No. n.) 

I584(?) Brief notes of a project for the making of brimstone out of 
certain stones found in the coasts of the Isle of Sheppey, Whit- 
stable and parts adjacent. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. clxvii, 
No. 56.) 

1585, 26th June. Note of powder and saltpetre remaining on hand in 
the City of London. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. clxxix, No. 40.) 

1585, 26th June. Warrant under the Privy Signet for the trans- 
portation of Gunpowder. Greenwich. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 
Cecil MSS., pt. iii, p. 100.) 

1585, October. Petition of Henry Dale and William Hall to the 
Council. They state that they had laid in a great store of 
powder according to their Lordship's directions. They desire 
that letters may be sent to the several towns and shires com- 
manding them to provide their powder of them. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. clxxxiii, No. 78.) 

1585, 3ist October. Warrant under the Privy Signet for the exporta- 

tion of gunpowder to Rochelle. Richmond. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 
Cecil MSS., pt. iii, p. 114.) 

1586. Articles to be considered of and answered to Henry Dale, as 
to the provision of powder from abroad, with a staple to be 
made in certain towns for supply of the adjacent counties. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cxcv, No. 112.) 

1586, 6th March. Sir Owyn Hopton to the Council asks that 
Mr. Henry Dale may be commanded to remove his storehouse 
of powder, wherein is 40 lasts of powder, to some other place 
of less danger, because the house stands on Tower Hill, where 
rogues and vagabonds oftentimes lodge in the night and burn 
straw to warm themselves. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. clxxxvii, 
No. 19.) 



CHRONOLOGY 217 

1586, 22nd March. " Paide, the same day to Henry Webster for towe 

poundes gun pouther to kylle hawkes meat, ijs., v]d" (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle, 
vol. iv, p. 392.) 

1587, December. Note of such proportions of powder and match as 

are to be made by the Cinque ports and corporate towns in 
various counties, and which have made provision accordingly. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccvi, No. 63.) 

1588, 1 4th January. Certain persons petition for charter to search for 
saltpetre, and offer to supply powder at &d. per Ib. (British 
Museum, Lansd. MSS. 58, Art. 63.) 

1588, 25th January and 1589, 28th January. George Evelyn, Richard 
Hills (? Willes) and John Evelyn obtained licences for 1 1 years 
to dig for saltpetre and make gunpowder. (Letters Patent in 
Patent Office, the latter date in Patent Roll 31, Elizabeth, pt. viii, 
mem. 10.) 

1588, 27th March. Certificate of the quantity of saltpetre remaining 
in the Tower of London. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccix, 
No. 37.) 

1588, 1 2th April. A letter to the Earl of Warwick. Saltpetre remain- 
ing in the Tower to be made into powder, part by John Powell, 
surveyor to Her Majestie's Ordnance and part by Geo. Evelyn 
of Wotton, Surrey. (Acts of Privy Council, xvi, p. 30.) 

1 588, September. Petition of Henry Dale to Sir Francis Walsyngham. 
Offers to provide a sufficient supply of powder for Her Majesty's 
service, and desires that no other factor may be appointed. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxvi, No. 71.) 

1588, 2Oth October. Christopher Coult at Elbing to Lord Burghley, 
states that he is an Englishman, and a traveller for 22 years in 
divers countries, and has seen many things worth learning; but 
the grossness of his capacity is such that, out of all, he has learned 
the smallest and least worthy of commendation, which is for a 
perfect way to find out saltpetre, and the making of powder, 



218 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

both good and profitable ; and as in this time of trouble there 
has been want of powder, or it has been at most unreasonable 
rates, he has wondered thereat, considering the climate of our 
country, the situation of our ancient buildings, and so many of 
these prowling fellows, who have her Majesty's commission, but 
rather take bribes than seek to serve their Prince and Country, 
or else most of them are ignorant in that profession. 

As he knows Lord Burghley to be a father to our country, 
a husband to Her .Majesty's affairs, and a continual carer for 
the Commonwealth he writes that for the service he owes 
to his Prince and Country, he would have come over, but having 
married a gentleman's daughter of good calling, and being in a 
powder mill, with freedom to seek and sell saltpetre, he has 
^"300 or ^400 a year so that he cannot so lightly alter his being. 
Notwithstanding, to pleasure his country upon good grounds of 
promised maintenance by Her Majesty or Lord Burghley, as 
his deserts shall merit, he will show the way to find out more 
Saltpetre and powder than all England shall need, and at 
reasonable rates, or lose his life. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
Addenda, vol. xxx, No. 112.) 

1588, 3rd December. Survey of the powder and saltpetre in the 
Tower and in London. Quantities of saltpetre to be delivered 
to Evelyn and Hill, the gunpowder makers, to perform their 
bargain. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxix, No. 7.) 

1589, 28th January. Patent for George Evelyn, Richard Hills, and 
John Evelyn to dig, open and work for " saltepeeter" anywhere 
in the queen's dominions, or crown lands, or the land of any 
subject (except in the City of London, and 2 miles distant from 
the walls thereof, and in the counties of York, Northumberland, 
Westmoreland, Cumberland, and the Bishopric of Durham) and 
the same saltepeeter to try out and make into powder for the 
queen's provision, for eleven years to come. They to restore any 
buildings, etc., taken down for the purpose, as they were before. 



CHRONOLOGY 219 

This commission to make void all such commissions theretofore 
granted. (Patent Roll, 31 Elizabeth, pt. 8, mem. 10 (25).) 

1589, March. A discourse touching Russia and Persia, and how they 
may be traded; experienced men to be sent out to establish 
trade and learn the manufacture of saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. ccxxiii, No. 52.) 

1589, 26th April. George Constable, Esq. obtains licence to dig for 
saltpetre and make gunpowder in York, Nottingham, etc. for 1 1 
years. (Patent Roll, 31 Elizabeth, pt. xv, mem. 10.) 

1589, 9th May. Sir Robert Constable to Lord Burghley. Informa- 
tion of powder newly arrived from Stoad. Desires that it may 
be taken up for her Majesty's service. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
vol. ccxxiv, No. 28.) 

Encloses Note of such powder as is at present in London, 
and what is expected to come by the next voyage from Ham- 
borough. (Ibid., No. 28, i.) 

1589, June. Petition of Thomas and Robert Robynson to Lord 
Burghley. For grant of the privilege of making saltpetre 
within the City of London, offering to supply 20,000 Ibs. weight 
yearly without troubling her Majesty's subjects for the same. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxiv, No. 114.) 

1589, June. Note of powder brought from abroad into H.M.'s store in 
the office of ordnance in May and June, at lid. per Ib. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxiv, iio|.) 

1589, July. Note of all saltpetre delivered into the Tower by George 
Shepard and Josias Pett, saltpetre men. (S. P. Dom. Eliza- 
beth, vol. ccxxv, No. 46.) 

1589, July. Petition of John Grange to Lord Burghley. Had been 
bereaved of his employment of making of saltpetre within the 
City of London by Ralph Hockenhull who for his own gains 
had employed unskilful persons to carry on the work. Requests 
a grant of the working of saltpetre in London for eleven years. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxv, No. 47.) 



220 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1589, 2ist July. Note of such powder, arms and munition as Randall 
Symmes offers to furnish upon twelve days' warning. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxv, No. 45.) 

1589, 7th August. Articles objected by John Grange against Ralph 
Hockenhull for abuses in the manufacture and supply of salt- 
petre within the City of London, under a deputation from the 
Earl of Warwick granted to one George Sheppard. Grange's 
offer to supply the Queen's stores with 20,000 Ibs. weight of 
saltpetre yearly. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxv, No. 55.) 

Reasons stated by John Grange for maintenance of his 
late petition delivered to Lord Burghley against Ralph Hocken- 
hull for abuses in the making and sale of saltpetre. (Ibid., 
No. 56.) 

Further complaints of John Grange against Ralph Hocken- 
hull for preventing him in the exercise of his letter of deputation 
for the making of saltpetre, and placing therein his servant 
George Sheppard, the said petre to be delivered to Mr. George 
Evelyn for the making of gunpowder. (Ibid., No. 57.) 

1589, loth August. Ralph Hockenhull to Lord Burghley. Thanks 
for sending him the articles preferred against him touching the 
supply of powder and saltpetre. Requests a strict examination 
of the matter. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxv, No. 61.) 

1589, 1 3th September. Ralph Hockenhull to Lord Burghley. In 
answer to the accusations of Mr. Grange. It is no small grief 
to him that he ever came in question with so bad and busy a 
fellow. Only desires to live in his Lordship's good opinion. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxvi, No. 31.) 

Encloses His answers to the accusations of John Grange. 
(Ibid., 31, T.) 

1589, ist October. Note of the powder remaining in Her Majesty's 
storehouses. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxvii, No. 2.) 

1 589, ist October. Amount of the quantities and prices of the saltpetre 
brought into the Tower since the last composition; and the 



CHRONOLOGY 221 

names of the saltpetre men supplying the same. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. ccxxvii, No. 3.) 

1589, ist October. Bond of Thomas and Robert Robynson, wherein 
they stand bound to deliver annually 20 thousand weight of 
saltpetre to John Evelyn, for the working of saltpetre within 
the City of London to be converted into gunpowder. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxvii, No. 4.) 

1589, November. L. Engelstedt to Sir Francis Walsyngham. Gives 
him particulars of the contract entered into between Her Majesty 
and him for the manufacture and supply of saltpetre. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxviii, No. 38.) 

1589, 1 7th December. Indenture between Richard Hill, George Con- 

stable, and John Grange, saltpetre and gunpowder makers of 
the one part, and George Hogge of the other part, granting to 
the said Hogge an annuity of ^"30 for the term of eleven years, 
according to the patent granted to George Evelyn, Richard 
Hill, and John Evelyn for the getting, working and making of 
saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxix, No. 33.) 

1590, 2nd January. The Council to Lord Burghley, Lord Lieutenant 

of Lincolnshire. General directions for putting in readiness the 
forces of the shire. . . . Provisions of shot, powder and match. 
Adulteration of powder, by putting shot into it to increase the 
weight. 

Inclosing . . . Proportion of match and powder to be 
supplied for the town of Boston and city of Lincoln. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxx, No. i.) 

1590, 8th January. Thomas Robinson and Robert Robinson licence 

for 10 years to dig for saltpetre in London and Westminster. 
(Patent Roll, 32 Elizabeth, pt. 20, mem. 31.) 

1591. Giles de Vischer, merchant stranger, to the Council. Complains, 
among other things that he lost ,1,100 by delivering 40 lasts of 
saltpetre to the Tower. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxl, No. 1 34.) 

1591, 24th June. Estimate of the shot of the great ordnance. A 



222 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

bastard cannon shoots 20 Ibs. at a shot, for 5000 shots will 
require 40 lasts and 200 Ibs. of powder. A demi-cannon, 18 Ibs., 
for 5000 shots requires 37 lasts, 1 60 Ibs. of powder. A whole 
cannon, 27 Ibs., which for a last of powder will be only 85 shots, 
and for 5000 shots about 55 lasts. (Calculation not quite correct). 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxxix, No. 55.) 

(1592.) Note that one company of 150 foot spends 80 Ibs. of powder 
every 6 weeks, or 640 a year, so that 3 lasts, of 2400 Ibs. each, 
will serve 10 companies for one year, with an overplus of 
one cwt. That 4 lasts have been sent out of the Tower since 
June 1590, and 2 have been provided by Christopher Keysell. 
(S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxliii, No. 109.) 

1592, 1 6th February. Attested statement by J. Grange that he, George 
Constable and Richard Hill were partners in making saltpetre 
and gunpowder, and agreed to pay Mr. Hogg ^"30 yearly to 
keep, as clerk of the deliveries, a true account of saltpetre, 
delivered out or brought into the Tower by them, and to see 
that Mr. Hill had his just third of what was delivered, to save 
him 200 which he was to have made before the partnership. 
Relinquished the partnership, and the bond was then cancelled, 
but Constable and Hill made a new one; has heard that it was 
only on the above conditions. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxli, 
No. 48.) 

1592, October. Reynold Hoxton obtains a patent for making powder- 
and shot flasks. (Patent in Patent Office under date.) 

1 595. Statement that the saltpetre men, if they may have a commission 
as liberal as Mr. Evelyn, will give a penny a pound for 21 years, 
so that if 300 lasts be made yearly there will be a gain of 
,3,000; and will get their saltpetre for 5 or 6 years from Wales, 
without troubling the subject. The gunpowder men offer two 
pence a pound, and to provide the Queen 80 lasts of powder at 
8^. a pound, and 80 lasts at *]\d. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth 
vol. cclv, No. 63.) 



CHRONOLOGY 223 

i575(?). Should be 1595. Grant to John Bovyat of the exclusive 
privilege of manufacturing saltpetre and gunpowder of stone 
minerals for 21 years. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, cvi, 53.) 

(For the petition of the above individual to the Privy 
Council, see Lansd. MSS. 80, Art. 35.) 

1595. A warrant to pay Symyon Turner of London, Merchant 
^1,481 i is. od. for certeine fine corne powder. 12 lasts 831 
pounds at xiiidf. the pound. (Acts of Privy Council, xxv, 

P- I37-) 
1594-5, 2ist March. Ottywell Smyth to the Earl of Essex. At my 

being in Paris I did desire the King some good assignation for 
the money due unto me and to other merchants of London, for 
apparelling sundry times of the Swisses, and furnishing the King 
with powder this six years, to the sum of .9,715. . . . Dieppe. 
(Hist. MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS., pt. 5, pp. 150-51.) 

1595, 3Oth July. The Lords of the Council to Lord Burghley, Lord 
Treasurer, and Lieutenant of the County of Essex. ..." Where 
likewise there was of late years a proportion of powder, match 
and bullet appointed to be kept in divers places within that 
county, we pray you to cause the same to be reviewed what 
doth remain of the store, and if serviceable; and for such quan- 
tity as is spent, you may, by some reasonable contribution of 
that county, cause the same to be supplied, for which purpose 
we will give direction that out of her Majesty's store such 
quantity as you shall send for shall be delivered at such prices 
as her Majesty doth pay and allow. . . . From the Court at 
Greenwich." (Hist. MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS., pt. v, 
pp. 295-6.) 

1595, I4th November. " Memorial of sundry things to be con- 
sidered and ordered for Her Majesty's service and the realm." 
Amongst other things, the following. To conclude bargains 
for 1 20 lasts of powder and some saltpetre from beyond seas in 
which Engelstedt's offer to have 4 in the 100 is to be remem- 



224 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

bered; since then he has offered to make the provision upon 
his own charges, to be paid upon his accounts, but this is uncer- 
tain and he has not set down the price. 

Turner and another merchant offer to deliver the quantity 
in London, at i2d. the pound for powder and 13^. for petre, on 
condition that if it is allowed by the office, it be received and 
payment made accordingly; but if refused, that they shall be at 
liberty to sell it in the realm ; toward the bargains they require 
an imprest of ,3,000. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol ccliv, No. 64.) 
1596 (February). Statement by Sir John Peyton as to the prepared 
Spanish invasion of England. In England every musketeer 
should be supplied with 10 Ibs. of powder, every arquebuser 
with 6 Ibs. and bullets and matches proportionable. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. cclvi, No. 70.) 

1596, 22nd April. A proportion of munition to be supplied to a town 

not mentioned, but most probably Calais. Among other items : 
3,000 Ibs. corn powder at is. per Ib. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
vol. cclvii, No. 39.) 

: 596, 1 5th May. The Robinsons assign their rights to Robert 
Evelyn. 

1597, 28th April. Sir George Carew, and four other ordnance officers, 

to the Master of Requests. States that a suit is depending 
before them between the bearer Robert Robinson and Thomas 
Aldworth, is to be heard this next term. There is great need 
of Robinson's service for making saltpetre, to be used by Mr. 
Evelyn for making gunpowder, which cannot be so conveniently 
done as in summer, and if he is forced to attend about that suit, 
his endeavours will be much hindered. They pray that it may 
be deferred till Michaelmas term. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, 
Addenda, vol. xxxiii, No. 80.) 

1597-8. . . . Paid more for the carriage of gunpowder, matche, and 
some parte of the armor from Hartland to South Tavistocke, 
when the soldiers went firste to Plymmouthe iis. \\d. (Hist. 



CHRONOLOGY 225 

MSS. Comm. Parish Documents of Hartland, N. Devon, rep. 5, 

P- 573-) 

1598, January. " The proportion of powder for the furnishing of her 

Majesty's ships in this last voyage, 1597." 

The charge of powder, 53 lasts 6 cwt., the waste 28 lasts 
17 cwt.; the remain 24 lasts, 13 cwt. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 
Cecil MSS., pt. viii, p. 34.) 

1 598-9. Account of Thomas Screvin. (Disbursement made in France 
by Ed. Yate.) " Item for powder & bullets to say (i.e.. assay, 
test) the armour, & in reward for the armourer's men, xjs. v]d" 
(Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir 
Castle, vol. iv, p. 416.) 

1599. Certain reasons to move her Majesty to sign the books for the 
making of saltpetre and gunpowder. Refers to a new patent 
which has been drawn in accordance with her Majesty's pleasure, 
and is ready for her to sign. It was yielded, upon the motion 
of the Council, that 20 lasts of powder should be delivered 
monthly for her Majesty's service, upon hope that the book 
should be presently signed, it being so signified by Sir George 
Carew; and the difficulties are detailed of keeping up this 
supply, as well as the supply for her Majesty's subjects, 
without the new patent; the principal one being that many 
more new furnaces must be set up at a large cost, which 
cannot be recouped under the short term now to run of the 
old patent. (Hist. MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS., pt. ix, p. 429.) 

1599. Manufacture of saltpetre and gunpowder. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 

MSS. of the Marquis of Salisbury, rep. 6, p. 262$.} 
1599. Account of Henry Farr (Expenses anno Elizabeth 41). The 
Stables. 

1 7th and 2 ist January. " John Hebbe for mache and three 
pound of gonpoulder for the ryder to trayne the greate horses, 
i\\]s. \]d" 

28th October. " For one pound of gonpoulder used by 

Q 



226 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

them that went to London with mony, xvjW." (Hist. MSS. 
Comm. MSS. of the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle, vol. iv, 
p. 426.) 

1599. Cancellation of indenture between the queen and John Evelyn 
and Richard Hardinge, esquires and others. This indenture 
together with the letters patent therein mentioned were can- 
celled because John Evelyn, Richard Harding and Robert 
Evelyn, having acquired the interest of their former colleagues 
Simeon Furner and John Wrenham on i8th October, 2 James I 
surrendered the same. (Patent Roll, 41 Elizabeth, pt. 4, 
mem. 12.) 

1599, 6th August. The Privy Council to Sir George Carew. Request 
to deliver such saltpetre as is at this present remaining in store 
to John and Robert Eveling, for converting it into gunpowder. 
Also instruction to make some bargain and agreement with 
them " to new make . . . that it may be serviceable . . . great 
quantity of gunpowder in her Majesty's Store that is decayed 
and unserviceable." (Hist. MSS. Comm. F. J. Saville Fol- 
jambe MSS., rep. 15, App., pt. v, p. 88.) 

1599, 25th August. Robert Evelyn, also George Evelyn, John 
Evelyn and Richard Hills surrender their licences to the 
Queen. (Close Roll, 41 Elizabeth, pt. 29.) 

1599, 7th September. Patent to make saltpetre and gunpowder for 

i o years to John Evelyn, Richard Hardinge, Robert Evelyn, John 
Wrenham, and Symeon Turner. They also covenant to supply 
yearly 100 lasts of powder at yd. per Ib. (Patent Roll, 41 
Elizabeth, pt. iv, mem. 8.) 

1600. Note of powder and saltpetre required to remain in store, of 
that which now remains, and of that to be supplied, the cost of 
which will be ,12,870, ,3,000 to be allowed from the ordnance 
and ,9,870 by privy seal; with note of 1,000 worth of salt- 
petre in store still unpaid for. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cclxxvi, 
No. 53.) 



CHRONOLOGY 



227 



1600. September. A remembrance of certain benefits to Her Majesty 
and her subjects, by making saltpetre and gunpowder within 
this realm: 

Firstly. There is infinite security to Her Majesty and the State, that 
the land has means in itself, to defend itself, and offend enemies, 
otherwise she would be forced to depend upon foreign princes 
who have refused to suffer this provision to pass out of their 
dominions for any money whereof experience was had in 1595, 
when Mr. Turner, a merchant of London, now a patentee in 
this behalf, being commanded to provide 100 lasts of saltpetre, 
which he undertook to deliver within six months, to supply the 
provision that went out of the stores for the Cadiz voyage, could 
not perform it, as the Duke of Pomerland would not suffer his 
country to be weakened of a matter of such strength, so that 
Her Majesty was disappointed and could get but six lasts, two 
months after the time appointed, whereby a supply was of 
necessity made within the land. 

Secondly. Although this provision could be had in foreign parts, it 
cannot be brought in without danger of being intercepted, and 
of delay and loss. 

Thirdly. Her Majesty has usually paid one shilling a pound for 
foreign powder, and has saved by the making of saltpetre and 
gunpowder within the realm, which has been delivered at eight- 
pence, 4,000 in every 100 lasts during the former patent, 
whereby there were 80 lasts delivered ordinarily and upon 
especial occasions far greater quantities. Her subjects have 
saved nearly as much, so that altogether has been saved by the 
last patent in 1 1 years little less that 100,000. 

Fourthly. Her Majesty is now served 100 lasts of powder yearly at 
jd. per Ib. and has saved therein, under the said price of foreign 
powder, ,5,000 a year, and has indented for 20 lasts more yearly 
to be delivered if required, viz. for 40 lasts yearly more than 
was usually delivered by the former patent, so that she may save 



228 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

by this patent in 10 years above .60,000 under the price of 
foreign powder, and her subjects in like proportion as much. 

Fifthly. The making of saltpetre and gunpowder within the land 
raises a hidden benefit, the want whereof would carry great sums 
of money or other commodities of like value to foreign parts, and 
sets many people to work. 

Sixthly. It appears by the accounts of the ordnance that Her Majesty, 
before the last two patents, never had above 20 or 30 lasts of 
English gunpowder delivered into the stores, partly because men 
of skill were wanted to make it, but chiefly because there was no 
certain person enjoined to bring any certain quantity into the 
store, but the matter was left at large, until the want of powder 
in 1588, notwithstanding all the provision that could then be 
had amongst the merchants of foreign powder hazarded the land. 
This occasioned the then Council to contract that the provision 
in this behalf might be chiefly made within the land, of which 
contract the then Lord Treasurer oftentimes spoke as the greatest 
service that could be done for the security of the kingdom, the 
strength of the wars being altered from bows and arrows to 
ordnance. As by this patent 1 20 lasts of powder are indented 
for yearly, viz. 40 lasts more than had usually been delivered 
for her Majesty's provision, besides that for her subjects it could 
not be made without dealing with the grounds of the better sort, 
not before meddled with, as well as with those of inferior persons, 
and thus is stirred up that discontent which has appeared in 
Parliament. The making of saltpetre will be complained of, 
though performed in the best manner that can be devised, as 
breaking of earths and taking of carriages needful by many of 
the ruder sort cause great discontent. 

Seventhly. As there are said to be great grievances in the digging of 
houses, what just cause of grief, or rather what punishment had 
been sufficient for the leaving of houses undigged and so the 
land unfurnished of this munition in these perilous seasons? If 



CHRONOLOGY 229 

there be any just cause of offence let it be punished; but if all 
these petty matters were compared to that infinite security which 
the performance of this service brings to Her Majesty and her 
subjects, they have little cause of offence, and should think it 
their great happiness that thereby their houses, goods, lands and 
lives are protected. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cclxxv, No. 76.) 

1600, 2nd September. Thomas Crompton to Edward Reynolds. Since 
writing my letters, there came a messenger from Mr. Evelyn 
to demand the payment of ^360, which my Lord oweth, with 
threats that if it were not paid before the term, he would put 
the bond in suit. I told the messenger to tell Mr. Evelyn that 
when we came to reckoning he would be indebted to my Lord. 
I pray you acquaint my Lord herewith, and learn his 
pleasure whether I shall not use means to force them to pay 
that they promised out of the benefit of their grant for making 
saltpetre and gunpowder. (Hist. MSS. Comm. Cecil MSS., 
pt. x, p. 312.) 

1602. Action by John Evelyn, Hardinge, Robert Evelyn and Wren- 
ham, Licensees, against certain persons for failure to supply 
carts. (Bills and Answers in the Exchequer, Elizabeth, Kent, 

No. I26A.) 

1602. Arguments to prove that the letters patent of Sept. 7, 1599, for 
the sole making of saltpetre and gunpowder are maintainable 
not only in policy for the preservation of the state, but also in 
equity, and by the common laws of the land, viz. i, that the use 
of saltpetre and gunpowder is necessary; 2, that they should be 
made in the country; 3, that the sole making belongs to the 
Crown, and should not be exercised without the Queen's grant ; 
with objections thereto, and their answers; 4, statement of the 
benefits of granting the sole making of saltpetre and powder. 
Conclusion therefore that the patent is not a monopoly but 
useful in policy, equity, and by common law; therefore that the 
proclamation of 28 Nov. 1601 does not impeach it, but only 



2 3 o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

prohibits its abuse, and that all who call it in question should be 
punished. With note that the patent was drawn by Attorney- 
General Coke; this discourse approved by Solicitor-General 
Fleming, Francis Bacon, and by Councillors Andrew Blundon, 
John Dodderidge, John Walter and John Hele. (S. P. Dom. 
Elizabeth, vol. cclxxxvi, No. 42.) 

1602, iith May. G. Harvey deputy Lieutenant, J. Linewray, and 
John Lee, officers of ordnance to Lord Buckhurst. At the 
request of Mr. Evelyn and the other patentees for making 
powder to be brought into the stores, they certify that monthly 
from the commencement of their patent, they have, according to 
covenant, brought in 8 lasts and 8 cwt. of good corn powder. 
They have divers times offered to serve a much greater quan- 
tity if required, in respect whereof, and of the great stock which 
has long lain dead, and is daily increasing in their lands, it is 
thought that the demand made by Sir Noel Caron for 30 lasts 
of powder and 10 of saltpetre for the States General may be 
granted without prejudice. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. cclxxxiv, 
No. 10.) 

1603, April. Petition of the Patentees for the manufacture of saltpetre 

and gunpowder to the Council, requesting letters of assistance 
to confirm their Patent, the validity of which has been vexa- 
tiously questioned since the late Queen's death. With reference 
to Lord Chief Justice Popham and his opinion thereon. (S. P. 
Dom. James I, vol. i, No. 64.) 

1604, gth January. The arrear account of John Evelyn and Robert 

Evelyn, esquires, of decayed and unserviceable gunpowder and 
saltpetre received by them by warrant from the late Queen's 
privy Council, or otherwise, by appointment of the officers in 
the Tower of London, out of the H.M.'s stores, to be dried in 
stoves, or wrought and made into good and serviceable powder, 
for re-delivery into the same stores, between 22nd September, 
1595, and 9th January, 1604. (A l n g account, the totals 



CHRONOLOGY 23 1 

being given only in money values.) (Pipe Office Declared 
Accounts, 2708.) 

1604, October. Offer of John Evelyn, Richard Harding, and Robert 
Evelyn patentees for making saltpetre and gunpowder for the 
service of the state. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. ix, No. 68.) 

1604, i8th October. John Evelyn, Richard Hardinge and Robert 
Evelyn surrender the 1599 licence and obtain a fresh one for 
2 1 years, and also contract for 1 20 lasts at 8*/. per Ib. and 
additional powder at lod. per Ib. (Patent Roll, 2 James I, 
pt. vii, mem. 25, also Patent in Patent Office.) 

1604, i8th October. Indenture between the King of the first part, 
and John Evelyn, Richard Hardinge, and Robert Evelyn, 
esquires, of the second part. Whereas by letters patent of 
this date the King has granted to the said parties of the 
second part license to make and work for saltpeter and gun- 
powder in England and Ireland, with licence to break ground, 
etc. for 21 years, they hereby undertake to deliver 120 lasts 
of good, perfect and serviceable corne powder yearly into 
the King's store in the Tower of London, half to be callyder 
corne powder, the other half cannon corne powder, at the rate 
of 8</. per Ib. (Patent Roll, 2 James I, pt. vii, mem. 20.) 

1606, 1 7th December. The 1604 patent was revoked. (Patent Roll, 

4 James, pt. xxiv, mem. 13.) 

1607, May. The Earl of Worcester obtains a patent and covenant for 

80 lasts of powder at 8d. and more at gd. for the term of 2 i 
years, revocable within 18 months. (Patent in Patent Office.) 
1607, 8th May. A licence granted to the Earl of Worcester for the 
sole making of saltpetre and gunpowder in England and Ire- 
land for 21 years, revocable at pleasure. An indenture signed 
between the King and the Earl of Worcester, the latter agree- 
ing to deliver 80 lasts of gunpowder per annum at the Tower of 
London at 8d. per Ib. and as much more as might be required 
at gd. (Patent Roll, 5 James I, pt. xi, mem. 4 id.) 



232 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1607, iith May. Patent for Edward, Earl of Worcester, to make and 
work for saltpetre and gunpowder, with power to dig, etc. etc. 
for 21 years. (Patent Roll, 5 James I, pt. xi, mem. 41, d.) 

1610, January. The King to the Lord Treasurer. Refers to the com- 
position with the Earl of Worcester and others as have the 
patent for the making of gunpowder within this realm, for 
delivery of powder monthly into the Tower worth ^500, which 
provision has continued some time, and the store has been so 
replenished that of late it has only been able to take in one half 
of the quantity contracted for, whereby there remains a large 
quantity in the hands of the makers. The King, therefore, by 
advice of the Council has licensed the said Earl to transport, to 
such parts beyond seas as are in amity with us, 1,200 barrels of 
powder for the present year, and thereafter all such as shall not 
be required in the King's stores; such licence to continue so 
long as the Lord Treasurer, by conference with the officers of 
ordnance, shall not think fit to take into the said stores the whole 
proportion which they are bound to deliver. The Lord Treasurer 
is therefore required to give order to the officers of the port of 
London or elsewhere to suffer the said Earl to transport such 
gunpowder accordingly, reserving to the King the customs. 
(S. P. Dom. James I, Add. vol. xxxix, No. 114.) 

1612, 25th August. The Earl of Northampton to Lord Rochester. On 

account of the mischiefs likely to arise by the establishment, in 
certain inhabited places, of houses for making gunpowder, the 
Council have given orders for their suppression. (S. P. Dom. 
James I, vol. Ixx, No. 59.) 

1613, September. Letter from the Earl of Worcester to the Lord 
Mayor, informing him that the King had by letters Patent com- 
mitted to his charge the making of all saltpetre and gunpowder 
for the use of His Majesty, within his dominions, with power to 
appoint deputies, and requiring the Lord Mayor and Aldermen 
to prevent any persons from digging for or working saltpetre 



CHRONOLOGY 233 

within the City and liberties, except John Evelyn, Esquire, of 
Godstone, Surrey, or his factors, servants, etc. to aid him in the 
performance of the business, and in the event of any other 
persons being found working, to require them to cease, taking 
bond from them either to do so, or offer before the Privy 
Council. (City of London, Remembrancia, iii, 108.) 

1615. Qth August. Durham Castle. Bishop James to Archbishop 
Abbot. Sends information given by a Polish Surgeon (Christ- 
opher Newkirk), a pretended Catholic, much courted by the 
priests, who wish to learn from him how to make still powder. 
(S. P. Dom. James I, vol. Ixxxi, No. 54.) 

1616. Another grant to the Earl of Worcester (vide 1607) with some 
alterations. 

1617. Patent of Earl of Worcester cancelled in 1617, on voluntary- 
surrender of the patent by the said Earl. 

1617, 26th February. Grant to the Earl of Worcester for payment of 
money on delivery of gunpowder and other things touching the 
same. (Patent Roll, 15 James I, p. 20.) 

1617, 2Qth March. Indenture of covenant between the King and the 
Lord Privy Seal, concerning the making and delivery of salt- 
petre at the Tower, according to former rates, etc. with some 
differences from the former indentures. (S. P. Dom. James I, 
Sign Manual, vol. viii, No. 36.) 

1617, 1 3th June. Letter from the Earl of Worcester to the Lord 
Mayor stating that, being by the King's Letter Patent appointed 
by himself or his assigns, to make all saltpetre and gunpowder 
within the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, for 31 years from 
the 1 3th March last, he had appointed as his deputy, Richard 
Fisher of the Inner Temple, Gentleman, and requesting the Lord 
Mayor and Court of Aldermen to be aiding to his said Deputy, 
factors, workmen and servants. (City of London Remem- 
brancia, iv, 78.) 

1619, 2Oth September. Extract from the Churchwarden's accounts of 



234 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Croydon, that town being oppressed in the carriage of saltpetre 
to Kingston-on-Thames, has had the road measured, and found 
it 10 miles 62 roods. Also that Richard Gilbert is threatened 
with ruin by the saltpetre men, who wish to dig for saltpetre in 
his shop. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. ex, No. 67.) 

1620, 24th January. Licence to George Marquis of Buckingham, High 
Admiral of England, George Lord Carew, Master of the Ord- 
nance and Sir Lionel Cranfield, Knight, Master of the Court of 
Wards and Liveries, to make and work for saltpetre and gun- 
powder. (Patent Roll, 18 James I, pt. iv, No. 3, also S. P. 
Dom. Grant book, [620, p. 281.) 

1620, 2ist September. Licence to the Lord Admiral, the Master of 
the Ordnance, and the Master of the Court of Wards, to make 
and work all manner of saltpetre and gunpowder in England 
and Ireland. (S. P. Dom. James I, Docquets, vol. ii.) 

1620, 28th October. Complaint of the saltpetre monopoly. (S. P. 
Dom. James I, vol. cxvii, No. 37.) 

1620, 4th November. Statement of the annual expense of the Ord- 
nance Office, as returned by the Commissioners, total ^14,204 
2s. 6d., of the modes by which they propose to effect a saving of 
,10,330 4.?. 2d. therein, viz., suppression of offices, the King's 
resumption of saltpetre manufacture by which he can provide 
his own gunpowder, and reduction of the allowances for supplies 
of munition and wages. With replies by the officers of Ord- 
nance showing the fallacies in the above statements and pro- 
positions. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. cxvii, No. 54.) 

1620, December. Note of charges against John Evelyn, for non- 
fulfilment of his contract with the Commissioners for Ordnance, 
relative to delivery of gunpowder at the Tower, which he excuses 
on the ground that the agreement is not ratified. (S. P. Dom. 
James I, vol. cxviii, No. 72.) 

Accounts by John Evelyn, of saltpetre received and gun- 
powder manufactured by him, and delivered to the Tower since 



CHRONOLOGY 235 

the Earl of Worcester relinquished his patent Feb. 17, 1620. 
(S. P. Dom. James I, vol. cxviii, Nos. 73 and 74.) 
1.621, 28th January. Sir George Shirley to Sir Thomas Edmondes. 
The saltpetre men, under colour of letters of deputation from 
the Earl of Worcester, have injured him and his tenants at 
Ragdale, Leicestershire, by digging in their houses for saltpetre, 
contrary to the exception in their patent against disturbing 
dwelling houses. Begs his assistance to obtain recompense for 
the loss, or the punishment of the offenders. (S. P. Dom. 
James I, vol. cxix, No. 45.) 

1621, 2 1 st April. Conditions upon which the three Lords, Buckingham, 

Carew, and Cranfield depute to Mr. Evelyn their patent for the 
sole refining of saltpetre and making of gunpowder. (S. P. 
Dom. James I, vol. cxx, No. 102.) 

1622, May(?). Suggestions (by Sir Robt. Heath) as to the mode of 
establishing a bank; . . . with notes about saltpetre and the 
customs. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. cxxx, No. 29.) 

1622, 22nd June. Note of a Council held at Whitehall, signed by 
Alb. Morton. The King allows the Ambassador of the Emperor 
of Russia to transport certain Gunpowder, 200 barrels bastard 
musket boare, and 11,250 pieces of 8 in english coyne valued 
at ,2,250. The Lords ask the Lord Treasurer to give orders 
to officers of the Port of London to suffer them to pass. (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Earl de la Warr at Knole Park, 
Kent, rep. 4, p. 283.) 

1622, 3oth September. Warrant of payment of ^742 14.?. 2d. to Sir 
Richard Morrison, to be paid over to John Evelyn for exchang- 
ing certain damaged and unserviceable gunpowder, returned 
from the King's castles, forts, etc. for good powder, at the rate 
of 2J-af. per Ib. (S. P. Dom. Docquets, vol. xii, under date.) 

1622, nth October. Earl of Middlesex to (Marquis of) Buckingham. 
Draft of a letter on the System to be adopted in Ireland, reform 
and payment of the King's household and the quantity of Gun- 



236 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

powder in the public stores (corrected by Middlesex). (Hist. 
MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Earl de la Warr at Knole Park, 
Kent, rep. 4, p. 278.) 

1623. Petition to the Lord Treasurer by the East India Company. 
They want 200 barrels of powder; dare not go to sea without 
it. They can only get it of Mr. Evelin, and he has received 
orders not to part with any until the fleet is furnished; they 
ask that Evelyn may be at liberty to sell. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 
MSS. of the Earl de la Warr at Knole Park, Kent, rep. 4, 

P-3H-) 

1623, 1 6th January. Proclamation, that no person make gunpowder 
except with saltpetre made by warrant of His Majesty's com- 
mission, King's powder maker to receive lod. per Ib. and all 
gunpowder made by him to be priced and marked by the sworn 
proof master. The marks are explained at the same time. 
(Patent Roll, 20 James I, pt. xvi, No. 18 dorso.} 

1623, 1 6th January. Proclamation that for prevention of abuses in 
the manufacture of gunpowder and saltpetre, by which the 
King's ships and subjects are endangered, all powder made or 
imported shall go to the King's powder maker, where the proof 
master shall stamp it with marks specified, according to its 
quality, any counterfeiting of such stamps to be punished in the 
Star Chamber. (S. P. Dom. James I, Proclamations, under date, 
printed, No. 1 10 ) 

1623, 22nd July. Grant to Thomas Warwick and others, of London, 

of license to make saltpetre in a new manner in England and 
Ireland, with provisoes of not interfering with the present com- 
mission, selling only to the King's storehouse etc. (S. P. Dom. 
Sign Manual, vol. xv, No. 52.) 

1624, January. John Evelyn to the Commissioners of the Navy. 

Reports the quantities of saltpetre brought into the King's 
stores by the saltpetre men to whom the several counties are 
assigned, and how far it falls short of or exceeds the proportions 



CHRONOLOGY 237 

assigned to be brought in by each. Endorsed with notes of 
offenders who are to be 'examined. Annexing names of the 
offenders above reported, and of the quantities of saltpetre 
which were agreed to be delivered weekly to the King's stores. 
(S. P. Dom. James I, vol. clviii, No. 78.) 

1624, 2ist March. Statement by John Coke of the terms of the con- 
tract made April 16, 1621, with Mr. Evelyn for the supply of 
gunpowder; also that he has since then supplied only 100 lasts, 
and is 135 lasts behindhand, whereby the present store is 
deficient, and the King has lost his ratio of 3^. in the Ib. on a 
large quantity. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. clxi, No. 13.) 

1624, 1 8th April. Sir Francis Nethersole to Sir Dud. Carleton. The 
heaviest charge against the Lord Treasurer is his neglect to 
pay the gunpowder makers, so that the present supply of powder 
is very small. His Lordship is confident of his justification. 
(S. P. Dom. James I, vol. clxiii, No. 3.) 

1624, 4th May. (Sec. Conway) to Att. Gen. Coventry. A ship is 
stayed at Dover, laden with gunpowder bought by English 
merchants for export, on a question whether such merchandise 
is lawful. Requests him to resolve the query if it belongs to 
common law, and if to civil law, to get a reply from the King's 
advocate, or some other civilians. (S. P. Dom. James I, 
vol. clxiv, No. i 7.) 

1624, 5th May. Sec. Conway to Lord Zouch. Has informed the 
King, Prince, and Duke of his care in staying the ship laden 
with gunpowder. Inquiries have been made, and the export 
of gunpowder appears to be unlawful, therefore the restraint is 
to continue till orders are taken thereon. ... (S. P. Dom. 
James I, vol. clxiv, No. 24.) 

1624, 1 5th May. John Evelyn to Lord Carew. Is fulfilling his con- 
tract to supply the Tower with 20 lasts of gunpowder monthly, 
and requests present payment of ^2,000 promised to be advanced 
for new buildings, and a settled assignment for the monies that 



238 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

become due for the powder. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. clxiv, 
No. 84.) 

1624, 6th June. Memorial of points to be considered by the Council 
of War viz. The Contract with Mr. Evelyn for supply of 
gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. clxvii, No. 22.) 

1624, 24th June. Statement by Mr. Evelyn of the gunpowder delivered 
by him into the Tower during the past three months, and of 
monies paid or due to him therefor: ,2,000 was promised him 
in advance, for erection of fresh powder mills. (S. P. Dom. 
James I, vol. clxviii, No. 38.) 

1624, 28th June. Secretary Conway to Attorney General Coventry, 
directing him to prepare a bill for renewal to Buckingham and 
Lord Carew of the patent for making saltpetre. (The sign 
manual for the commission is dated 13 July following. Conway's 
"Letter Book," p. 132.) 

1624, ist July. Covenant with John Evelyn the younger, of Godstone 
in Surrey that he should have for 3 years from ist April last 
the sole converting of saltpetre into gunpowder. He would 
erect a store at Southwark and pay the saltpetre men $ $s, ^d. 
per cwt. of saltpetre. He was to deliver 240 lasts (each last 24 
barrels each barrel 100 Ib.) powder at 8J perlb. and he obtained 
a loan of .2,000 for 3 years for erecting new mills (Hart. loc. 
cit.). 

1624, 1 3th July. Commission to the Duke of Buckingham and Lord 
Carew for making saltpetre and gunpowder, as formerly granted 
to them and the Earl of Middlesex, with certain alterations. 
(S. P. Dom. James I, Sign Manual, vol. xvi, No. 29.) 

1624, 2Qth July. Licence granted to Thomas Warrwicke, Peter Sparke, 
Michael Townshend and John Fells of London, merchants, for 
2 1 years to work a new way of making and refining saltpetre, 
and to make yearly 150 tons of saltpetre at the rate of 55.5-. per 
cwt. (Close Roll, 22 James I, pt. xx, No. 3.) 

1624, 26th December. Proclamation that no dove-houses or cellars be 



CHRONOLOGY 239 

paved, except where wine or beer is laid. (Patent Roll, 22 
James I, pt. iv, No. 9 dorso.} 

1624, 26th December. Proclamation ordering the preservation of 
grounds suitable for producing saltpetre etc. and the restoration 
of such as have been destroyed; commanding assistance to be 
given to his Majesty's saltpetre makers in digging in the 
grounds of any of his subjects. (S. P. Dom. Proclamations, 
1624, No. 127.) 

1624, 3oth December. Sec. Conway to Lord Carew. Sends a warrant 
from the King for delivery of gunpowder to the East India 
Company. He is to see that his Majesty is not prejudiced 
thereby. (S. P. Dom. James I, Minute Conway's " Letter 
Book," p. 178.) 

1624, 3ist December. Warrant for delivery to the East India mer- 

chants of 20 lasts of good gunpowder, fit for long voyages, from % 
the King's stores, on their delivery of the like quantity of good 
powder fit for shorter voyages. (S. P. Dom. James I, Docquets, 
vol. xii.) 

1625, 2nd March. Lord Carew to Sir John Coke. Has sent Mr. Evelyn 

to attend the Commissioners of the Navy. If the East India 
Company erect powder mills, it will open a flood-gate, and 
diminish the King's profit, as he receives a poundage on all 
powder made by Evelyn. (S. P. Dom. James I, vol. clxxxv, 
No. 6.) 

1625, March (?). Conditions and covenants in the Commissions 
authorising certain persons to dig for saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. i, No. 15.) 

1625, 1 3th April. Proclamation for the maintenance and increase of 
the mines of saltpetre, and the true making of gunpowder. 
(Proclamation, Charles I, No. 7 ; Rymer's " Foedera," vol. xviii, 

P- 2 3.) 

1625, August. Memorandum for the Duke of Buckingham to enjoin 
Mr. Evelyn to continue his monthly supply of powder; Sir 



2 4 o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Thomas Bludder undertakes to give His Majesty 48 barrels of 
powder and pay Mr. Evelyn ,1,700. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. v, No. iii.) 

1625, 25th August. Sir John Coke to the Duke of Buckingham. 
Among the things, Mr. Evelyn is to proceed in making powder 
in as great quantities as he can. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. v, 
No. 77.) 

1625, 26th August. Sir John Coke to Secretary Conway. The King 
is in debt to Mr. Evelyn for gunpowder .2,550; and the 
Treasurer answers that there are no monies for him. His estate 
will not afford to deliver any more. Mills of the East Indian 
Company set up in the skirts of Windsor Forest, stopped by 
command, because the deer receive prejudice. This order 
should be enquired into. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. v, No. 85.) 

1625, 28th August. Sir John Coke to the Duke of Buckingham. He 
is requested to intimate to the Lord Treasurer what prejudice 
it is to the kingdom, that Mr. Evelyn stays his hand from 
supplying gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. v, No. 92.) 

1625, 3ist August. Secretary Conway to Sir John Coke. Mr. Evelyn 
will receive satisfaction. No cause why the East India Com- 
pany may not proceed in their powder works. (Conway's " Letter 
Book," p. 226.) 

1625, 7th September. Sir John Coke to Secretary Conway. The 
interruption of the manufacture of gunpowder by the East India 
Company proceeded from Sir Arthur Mainwaring. Wishes 
Conway to inform the King how much the interest of his 
service is of more consequence than private profit or pleasure; 
also to procure a warrant for the resumption of the manu- 
facture. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. vi, No. 25.) 

Encloses: Sir Maurice Abbot, Governor of the East India 
Company, to Sir John Coke. One of Sir Arthur Mainwaring's 
officers forbade the making of powder, and the preparing of any 
works for the same. (Ibid., No. 25, i.) 



CHRONOLOGY 241 

1625, 22nd September. Thomas Style to Secretary Coke. Solicits a 
warrant on behalf of the East India Company for the manu- 
facture of gunpowder. Sir Arthur Mainwaring objects, alleging 
that the King's deer are hindered from their feeding, and that 
the poor people will want a corn-mill which the proposed mill 
used to be. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. vi, No. 94.) 

1625, 27th September. Sir Maurice Abbot, Governor of the East 
India Company, and Thomas Style to Sec. Coke. The Sec. is 
solicited to procure warrant for the release of the Company's 
powder mills. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. vi, No. 1 10.) 

1625, 4th October. Thos. Eldred to Thos. Styles. Robt. Deering 
had shipped on board Eldred's ship 75 barrels of powder, but 
the King of Denmark had taken away 66 barrels at the rated 
price. Gentlemen of Ipswich desire to buy the remainder. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. vii, No. 14.) 

1625, 4th October. Officers of the Customs in Ipswich to Thomas 
Styles. They intreat him to sell to the gentlemen of that 
county the gunpowder which Thomas Eldred had brought for 
him from Elbing. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. vii, No. 17.) 

1625, 1 2th November. The Council of Scotland to the King. They 
solicit licence to buy and transport from England 20,000 weight 
of powder for the use of the former kingdom. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ix, No. 53.) 

1625, i4th November. Francis Lord Russell to the Council. Urges 
the necessity for a supply of powder. The scarcity arises from 
no powder makers being as heretofore suffered to make powder 
in the county of Bedford. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ix, 
No. 57.) 

1625, 6th December. Secretary Coke to Secretary Conway. He 
states his opinion on the question of setting free the making of 
gunpowder, and breaking the contract with Mr. Evelyn. He 
was favourable to the maintenance of a restraint on the manu- 
facture ; but urged the propriety of increasing the supply of 

R 



242 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

saltpetre by compelling ships homeward bound to bring salt- 
petre and ballast. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xi, No. 24.) 

1625, 6th December. George Lord Carew, Master General of the 
Ordnance, to the Council. Being prevented by ill health from 
attending the Council, he writes his opinion on the question of 
dissolving the contract with Mr. Evelyn and permitting a free 
manufacture of gunpowder. He suggests ways of increasing 
the supply of saltpetre, especially from Ireland, in which country 
it had been the wisdom of former times to keep the manu- 
facture of powder from the people. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. xi, No. 27.) .,... ;jj T 

The same to Secretary Coke. He had written to the Council 
on the subject of dissolving the contract with Mr. Evelyn. 
(Ibid., No. 28.) 

1625, 7th December. Commissioners of the Navy to Sec. Coke. Send 
their opinion respecting the dissolving the contract for making 
powder. (S. P. Dom: Charles I, vol. xi, No. 33.) 

1625, 8th December. SecConway to Sec. Coke. His excuse made. 

His advice swayed the resolution for keeping up the contract 
for powder. . . . (S. P. Dom. Charles I, Minute Conway's 
" Letter Book," p. 239.) 

1626, 2nd January. Sir John Brooke and Thomas Russell obtain the 

sole privilege of making saltpetre. It is commanded to preserve 
all urine. (Rymer's " Foedera," xviii, p. 813.) 

1626, 2nd January. George Lord Carew, Master General of the 
Ordnance to Lord Treasurer Ley. Reports what has been 
done between the officers of the Ordnance and the Merchant 
Adventurers and the Eastland Company, concerning the 
importation of gunpowder and saltpetre. The store of powder 
and all other munitions is very weak, but that of powder must 
first be specially had in consideration. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. xviii, No. 6.) 

Encloses: i. Officers of the Ordnance to Lord Carew. 



CHRONOLOGY 243 

The Merchant Adventurers had replied that, through their 
foreign agents, they would enquire what store of petre or 
powder might be had in those parts, but they recommend the 
King to commend the service to his ambassadors. 1626, 
Jan. 2. (Ibid., 6, i.) 

2. The answer of the Eastland Merchants. They will in 
like manner inform themselves what quantity of powder can be 
bought in the East parts ; its quality may be tested by some now 
at Blackwall. (Ibid., 6, ii.) 

1626, 27th January. Memorial of George Lord Carew, Master General 
of the Ordnance, to the Council. The Lord Treasurer had 
agreed with Burlamachi for 100 lasts of powder from Amsterdam 
and Hamburgh, and with Mr. Evelyn for 20 lasts monthly, but 
it is suggested that the shires and maritime towns should be 
warned to make provision for themselves without depending 
upon the King's stores, and that liberty should be given to 
manufacture gunpowder for home consumption from foreign 
saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xix, No. 63.) 

1626, 22nd March. Proffers of Burlamachi and others to supply gun- 
powder, with copy of Mr. Russell's proffer for making of 
gunpowder. (MSS. of the House of Lords, Hist. MSS. Comm. 

iv, 7-) 

1626, 3ist March. Memorandum that Mr. Evelyn can get no sea 
coals, and cannot therefore proceed with the making of gun- 
powder. Compare Lords' Journals, iii, 547. (House of Lords' 
Papers. Hist. MSS. Comm., rep. 4, p. 9.) 

1626, 2nd April. Sir John Brooke and Thomas Russell, having 
discovered a new method of making saltpetre, obtain licences 
for 21 years. They are to supply 300 tons to the King at 
;/"3 3-y. \d. per cwt. (Patent Roll 2 Charles I, pt. xvii, No. 17.) 

1626, 22nd April. Draft of an Act for preservation of the mine of 
saltpetre and increase of the means of making saltpetre and for 
the ease of the subject from the grievance which they now bear 



244 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

by digging their houses and taking their carriages by saltpetre 
men. (Method discovered of enriching the earth with refuse 
and aquafortis and other acids and animal matter.) Bill pro- 
vides that as soon as the new process can supply the demand 
the present powers to the saltpetre men shall cease. (Lords' 
Journal, iii, 569, 574; Hist. MSS. Comm. Rept. 4, p. 10, etc.) 

1626, yth June. List of saltpetre men with their several counties, and 
the quantities delivered by them into store for one year ending 
May 31, 1626. (Amongst them is John Milton, saltpetre man 
for Yorks, Northumberland and Durham.) (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. xxix, No. 40.) 

1626, 8th June. Petition of William Ashwell to Buckingham. In 
December, 1624, certain barrels of gunpowder and brimstone, 
worth ,1,000 were returned by the petitioner from Hamburgh, 
for the service of this state; these goods were taken by a man- 
of-war of Enckhuysen in Holland, on the coast of Kent; prays 
redress. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xxix, No. 47.) 

1626, Qth July. Note of the powder remaining in store in the several 
halls of the City of London; 22,667 lb. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. xxxi, No. 40.) 

1626, 1 6th July. Petition of the East India Company to the King. 
In obedience to the King's command, they have dissolved their 
powder mills in Surrey, and discharged their servants, but having 
arranged for the purchase of large quantities of saltpetre, and 
been at great charge in erecting their mill, they pray for liberty 
to erect a mill in Kent or Sussex. Underwritten is a reference 
to the Attorney General to prepare a grant for carrying out 
their desire. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xxxi, No. 85.) 

1626, 22nd July. Commissioners of the Navy to Buckingham. Thomas 
Burleigh, Gunner of the Assurance, and George Cadman, Gunner 
of the Mary Rose, had embezzled five barrels of gunpowder. 
They had been committed to custody until his Grace's pleasure 
was known. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xxxii, No. 11.) 



CHRONOLOGY 245 

1626, 7th August. East India Company have imported saltpetre and 
erected powder mills in Surrey which were pulled down, asked 
leave to erect mills in Surrey, Kent, and Sussex and to convert 
into powder the saltpetre they import. (Patent Roll, 2 Charles I, 
pt. xxi, No. 31.) 

1626, 1 7th August. Letters Patent granting licence to the Company 
of Merchants of London trading to the East Indies, to erect 
mills and manufacture gunpowder within the counties of Surrey, 
Kent and Sussex. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, Coll. Sign Manual, 
Car. i, vol. ii, No. 13.) 

1626, 25th September. Wm. Viscount Mansfield to John Oldsworth, 
secretary to the Earl of Pembroke. To procure the Earl's 
warrant to Mr. Evelyn maker of gunpowder, to furnish 48 
barrels of gunpowder at the King's price of ^4 35-. 4^. per barrel, 
for the use of co. Nottingham. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xxxvi, 
No. 52.) 

1626, 7th December. Wm. Earl of Northampton to Secretary Conway. 

Suggests that if the saltpetre men that worked in that county 
(Worcester) might make their saltpetre into powder there, it 
would be a great ease to the country, and a ready way to pro- 
cure a supply of powder for the public defence. If this be agreed 
to directions should be sent to Wm. Richardson, who had the 
patent for those counties. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xli, No. 44.) 
i627(?) Note of the several kinds of cannon and field pieces, with 
their weight, and that of the bullets and powder required for 
each. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxxviii, No. 24.) 

1627. Petition of John Evelyn the King's powder maker, to the 
Council. Petitioner is bound to deliver great quantities of 
powder to the King's stores on payment of ,1,700 per month. 
That payment has not been continued for above six months, 
wherefore he has been obliged, for the maintenance of his works, 
to sell to other persons. But by reason of the manufacture of 
gunpowder by the East India Company, and one Michael 



246 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Waring, there is no sale for the powder made for the King. 
Prays that his monthly payment may be continued, or the other 
powder makers may be restrained, no such liberty having been 
given for above 60 years to any but the petitioner and his 
ancestors. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxxix, No. 9.) 

1627. Addresses of Mr. Stonestreet and Mr. Samuel Jennings, two 
purchasers of gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxxix, 
No. 10.) 

1627. Memoranda by Secretary Coke respecting a course to be taken 
to suppress unauthorized powder making. The powder makers 
designed to be suppressed are stated to be in Bristol, Dorset- 
shire, and Battle in Sussex. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxxix, 
No. u.) 

Proposition to restrain the sale and retailing of gunpowder 
to his Majesty's magazine. (I did., No. 20.) 

1627, 2nd January. Proclamation for the better making of saltpetre, 
and enforcing the privilege for the sole making thereof granted 
to Sir John Brooke and Thomas Russell by letters patent dated 
April 26 last. (Proclamations, Charles I, No. 57.) 

1627, loth February. De Proclamatione contra inutilem consump- 
tionem sulphurei, a proclamation to prevent the useless saluting 
with gunpowder. (Rymer's " Foedera," xviii.) 

1627, 2nd July. George Earl of Totness to Secretary Coke. On the 
complaint of Lord Strange of many abuses committed by Robert 
Leight, a deputy saltpetre man at Hawarden, co. Flint, the 
Duke of Buckingham and the writer wrote to certain justices to 
examine the business. Encloses their certificate, and the articles 
proved against Leight and begs the Secretary to dismiss him. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixx, No. 12.) 

Encloses: Justices of Flint to the Duke of Buckingham and 
the Earl of Totness. Send articles proved by inhabitants of 
Hawarden, against.Leight, the saltpetre man. Hawarden 1627, 
June 20. (Ibid., No. 12, L) 



CHRONOLOGY 247 

Enclosing the articles above mentioned. Lei^ht was accused 

o o 

of breaking open the locks of the stables of Lord Strange, also 
those of the castle of Hawarden ; and digging therein in search 
of saltpetre; also of employing a body of mean persons as 
agents, who committed similar acts throughout the town. (Ibid., 
12, i, i.) 

1627, 2oth July. George Earl of Totness to Secretary Coke. He 
knows not what distraction has fallen out among the saltpetre 
men, who now refuse to take out new deputations, whereby the 
works must fall, which will be a great detriment to the King's 
service. Has signed warrants to send for them, but doubts his 
power in the absence of the Duke of Buckingham. Leaves 
Coke to settle that question and act accordingly. 

Encloses : Commissioners to the Navy to the Earl of Tot- 
ness. Complain of the conduct of the saltpetre men and enclose 
warrants to send for them. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxi, 
No. 54.) 

1627, 23rd July. George Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral, 
and George Earl of Totness, Master of Ordnance, to be Com- 
missioners for the carrying out of a proclamation similar to that 
issued 13 April 1625. (Rymer's "Foedera," xviii.) 

1627, 23rd July. Proclamation for maintaining and increase of the 
mines of saltpetre, and for the true making and working of salt- 
petre and gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Proclamation Charles I, 
No. 67.) 

1627, 25th July. Special commission issued to the above two. 
(Rymer, loc. cit.) 

1627, 28th July. Secretary Coke to Secretary Conway. The saltpetre- 
men are now settled under the government of the officers of 
the ordnance. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxii, No. 32.) 

1627, 2Oth August. General letter from the King to various cities and 
towns, encouraging them to advance money to enable Sir John 
Brooke and Thomas Russell to carry on a royal privilege 



248 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

granted to them for procuring saltpetre, without the inconveni- 
ences then common. The money advanced was to be laid out in 
the erection of works, and to be repaid out of the first profits. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxiv, No. 45.) 

1627, 3rd October. George Earl of Totness, Master of the Ordnance 
to the King. In the memory of man that office was never so 
weak in powder as now. Difficulty of obtaining it. Beseeches 
the King to refer it to the Council to advise what course is to be 
taken in a cause of so great importance. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. Ixxx, No. 17.) 

Encloses: Brief of Powder issued out of the King's store 
from March, 1625, to September 22, 1627. Total, 653 lasts; re- 
maining in store, 24 lasts. (Ibid., No. 17, i.) 

1627, 9th October. The King to the towns of Reading and Oxford, 
to erect saltpetre works there. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, Docquet 
1627, Oct. 9.) 

1627, 1 7th October. Resolutions of the Council Board upon articles 
propounded by the Earl of Totness; in the handwriting of 
Secretary Coke. Measures to be taken to procure supplies of 
saltpetre from Barbary, Eastland, Hamburgh, and the Low 
Countries ; a check to be put upon spending powder in riot, by 
taking the accounts of gunners on oath. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. Ixxxii, No. 2.) 

1627, 3oth November. George Earl of Totness to the Duke of Buck- 
ingham. There is a necessity for contracting for a supply of 
saltpetre from Hamburgh or Amsterdam, to be sent when those 
ports are open from frost. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxxv, 
No. 72.) 

1627, 27th December. George Earl of Totness to the Duke of 
Buckingham. 

Encloses: Petition of Thomas Thornhill, saltpetre maker 
for London, to the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Tot- 
ness, commissioners for saltpetre and powder. Having a ship 



CHRONOLOGY 249 

coming from Newcastle to London, with coals for boiling salt- 
petre, prays that the ship and mariners may be free from 
impressment. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. Ixxxvii, No. 54 and 

54i.) 

i628(?) Memorandum concerning the agreement with John Evelyn, 

the gunpowder maker, for supply of H.M. Stores. Evelyn con- 
tracted to bring into the store 20 lasts of powder monthly, to be 
paid for by the Lord Treasurer within 14 days of delivery at 
SJper Ib. amounting to ,1,700 monthly with liberty to sell it at 
large, to his best advantage, if not duly paid for. This bargain 
was to begin in May 1627. 

For want of payment Mr. Evelyn brought in till Jan. 
(1628) but 4 months' proportions. 

Sir Thomas Bludder made a proposition to the Lords con- 
cerning Mr. Evelyn's contract, upon a mistaken notion that 
Evelyn was tied by his contract to sell the powder to the sub- 
ject at lod. per Ib. 

That Sir Thomas Bludder sold his presumed interest to 
Sir Paul Harris at lod. per Ib. who transferred the same to 
Mr. Jones, a merchant. 

Objections to these transactions and the answers. 

If the committee, having authority to examine all abuses 
of gunpowder making, would permit the hearing, it shall be 
made appear that Mr. Evelyn, and his agent Pigott, by their 
monopoly for the sole making and selling of gunpowder, giving 
of bribes, deceiving the King, abusing the subject, and out of 
other men's labours, have got an estate of near 40,000 within 
4 years. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. dxxix, No. 88.) 
1628. Computation of damage sustained by the King in 7 years by 
the contracts made for converting saltpetre into gunpowder, 
total, 106,925. Touching the making of 240 lasts of gun- 
powder yearly, according to a contract, with explanations 
thereon. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. dxxix, No. 89.) 



250 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1628. Letters patent whereby the King releases to John Evelyn the 
younger of Godstone, co. Surrey, ,2,000, paid to him by way 
of imprest under the Indenture of July i, 1624. (Copy, S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. cxxiv, No. 9.) 

1628. Project for provision of a sufficient quantity of saltpetre for the 
public use out of barren and almost unpeopled islands belonging 
to the King. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxxvi, No. 54.) 

1628, January. Proposition for enabling the Lord Admiral to purchase 
the powder manufactured by Mr. Evelyn, whenever the Lord 
Treasurer did not do so, and after supplying the King's 
wants to sell the powder at reasonable prices to the public. 
The proposers offer to find all the money necessary to be paid 
Mr. Evelyn, and to pay the Duke ^300 for every month in 
which they obtain the powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xci, 
No. 103.) 

1628, 1 2th January. George Earl of Totness to the Duke of Bucking- 
ham. The fleet cannot be armed on account of the want of 
powder. Mr. Evelyn sinks under the burden of the great sums 
due to him. They are to expect no more from him until he is 
satisfied. At this hour there is not above 50 lasts of powder in 
store. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xc, No. 64.) 

1628, February. Report by Captain John Heydon on the quantity and 
character of the powder brought into the King's stores by Philip 
Burlamachi and Mr. Evelyn since November, 1626. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. xciv, No. 105.) 

1628, 3rd March. Henry Holt to Nicholas. Has borrowed three 
barrels of powder out of the King's stores for the gentleman 
that makes the fireworks; he wants 27 barrels of powder more. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xcv, No. 22.) 

1628, 3rd March. Note of questions which will necessarily fall in 
debate on consideration of the proposition for supply of powder. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xcv, No. 27.) 

1628, 1 3th March. Minutes of proceedings of the Council of War 



CHRONOLOGY 



2.51 



The subjects treated of are, information of Blyth against Mr. 
Evelyn, the powder maker; bill preferred by Mr. Evelyn in 
Parliament concerning saltpetre; proposition in the Council for 
encouragement of the Deputies authorised for making saltpetre 
in Ireland; Thomas Procter's proposal for defeating a battail of 
pikes. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. xcv, No. 80.) 

1628, April. Petition of Roger Parr to the Duke of Buckingham. 
Petitioner by warrant from the Duke and the Earl of Totness 
as Commissioners for saltpetre and gunpowder, was appointed 
to take the weight of all the saltpetre delivered into the King's 
storehouse, at the Bell in Southwark. During the Duke's 
absence in Rhe he was dispossessed and Mr. Hocker appointed 
in his room, whereby besides his office he has lost a good sum 
of money due to him from the petremen. Prays redress. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. cii, No. 77.) 

1628, 2nd April. Capt. John Heydon to the same. They have found 
convenience to convey the 120 barrels of powder on horseback. 
Put into double casks, and conducted by a careful messenger, 
with particular instructions every night to keep a guard upon it, 
they doubt not of the safe arrival. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. c, 
No. 15.) 

1628, 2ist April. Cornbury Park. Henry Earl of Danby to the Duke 
of Buckingham. The saltpetre men having grievously oppressed 
the people of these parts, even exceeding the limits of-the large 
patent granted to the Duke and Earl of Totness, were con- 
vented at the Quarter Sessions; but the Earl, to prevent delay 
of supplies of saltpetre, and to withhold complaint which might 
distract the Parliamentary proceedings, advised the suspense of 
punishment presuming the Duke will take care to reform their 
lewd courses ; and the rather because Stevens, the principal 
master of this rabble, privately confessed that he pays the Duke 
yearly ,1,700 rent for this exorbitant commission which made 
the Earl much more willing to interpose as not forgetful of the 



252 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

promises passed between him and the Duke. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ci, No. 46.) 

1628, 23rd April. Account of saltpetre brought into His Majesty's 
store by the saltpetre men from August 3, 1627, to the last of 
December following. John Milton stands third in the list of 
saltpetre men. His deliveries had amounted to 73 cwt. 2 qr. 
23 lb., which is said to be 47 cwt. i qr. 5 Ib. less than his 
required proportion. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ci, No. 68.) 

1628, 24th April. George Earl of Totness to the Duke of Bucking- 
ham. He sent, by Sir Thomas Stafford, a letter of reasons to 
induce the Duke to be the means of dissolving the decree of 
the Council for sale of the powder made by Mr. Evelyn. 
Beseeches him to take it into his serious consideration that its 
continuance may not evermore keep the King's store weak. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cii, No. 2.) 

1628, 25th April. Report of Officers of the Ordnance to the Lord 
President of the Council, concerning the 1 20 barrels of powder 
to be sent to Plymouth. Have made diligent enquiry after the 
most speedy conveyance by land, but can find but six oxen 
teams, and those of Somersetshire, the owners being willing to 
undertake the service, yet alleging their cattle to be unable to 
travel those hard ways, and that it is impossible for their wains 
to pass Exeter, from whence the powder must be conveyed to 
Plymouth on horseback. Suggest the transfer of the powder 
required from Portsmouth by sea. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. 
cii, No. 17.) 

1628, 5th May. Petition of Hugh Grove to both Houses of Parlia- 
ment. The causes of the decay in the supply of saltpetre are 
asserted to be the disorderly conduct of the saltpetre men, and 
the consequent endeavour of all people to destroy the generation 
of saltpetre within their possessions. The petitioner offers to 
prove these assertions, if thereunto commanded. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ciii, No. 31.) 



CHRONOLOGY 253 

1628, 1 6th May. Petition of Nicholas Lillye, Purveyor for co. Wor- 
cester to the Council. He has been employed by the deputy 
Lieutenants of the county to find powder and match for the 
magazine therein for his Majesty's service. Prays for a warrant 
for two lasts of powder from Mr. Evelyn. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. civ, No. i.) 

1628, iyth May. Notes concerning the supply of powder in the 
King's stores, and the state of accounts with Mr. Evelyn. He 
has brought in no powder for three months, for want of pay- 
ment of an arrear of ,2,400. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. civ, 
No. 12.) 

1628, 2oth May. Sir Randolph Mainwaring and others to the Lord 
Keeper and Secretary Conway. Being informed that a stranger 
was lately come to Hocknell, a private place, some four miles 
from Chester, and was there making gunpowder, they had 
repaired thither, and found the man, who calls himself Robert 
King, with about 40 Ib. of powder. They have committed him 
to Chester Castle. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. civ, No. 33.) 

Enclosing: William Blyth to Mr. Leite. Answers com- 
plaints of his omitting much good ground. Had been before 
the Council with Mr. Evelyn, face to face; the Council said 
the saltpetre men must have their places for life, and that it 
must be lawful for any man to make powder. 1628, March 15. 
(Ibid, No. 33, i.) 

1628, 22nd May. Sir Henry Hungate to Buckingham. Sir Henry got 
him (? porter at Hurst Castle) a barrel of powder at Yarmouth 
Castle, and gave him ^5 to buy another barrel. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. civ, No. 53.) 

(628, 23rd May. Captain John Heydon and others of the Ordnance 
office to George Earl of Totness, Master of the Ordnance. 
They have perused the examinations touching the powder made 
by King (see ante). It being free for any one to make powder 
so that the same be not made of petre prohibited by virtue of 



254 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

His Majesty's commission, except it can be proved that King- 
knew that the petre he had of Cooper was such, he is in little 
fault. Cooper and Blyth should be summoned to answer the 
charge against them in that particular, and King is discharged. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. civ, No. 71.) 

1628, June. Lieutenant and other officers of the Ordnance to the 
Council. They report the quantity of powder (49 lasts and 
12 Ib.) remaining in the hands of the merchants and the East 
India Company. Have drawn them to be content to sell at 
the rate of ^5 5^. per barrel or hundredweight for ready money. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cviii, No. 77.) 

1628, iith June. Among "the causes of our disaster" No. 5 is -the 
want of powder in the Tower, for there is but now 60 last of 
powder when there should be 300 last always, and the King 
buying powder there was sold the last year 864 barrels, and the 
King paid 8 for powder, whereas he might have it for 
3 3*. Set. (Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Earl of Lons- 
dale, rep. 15, App., pt. vii, p. 45.) 

1628, 24th June. Sir Paul Harris, Surveyor of the Ordnance to 
Secretary Nicholas. He found in the Artillery Garden almost 
30 lasts of powder, and going to Mr. Evelyn's storehouse in 
Southwark, he was at first much daunted with the Council's 
warrant, and made as if they should not see his storehouse, 
but afterwards was content, where they found 15 lasts, besides 
seven that he has lately brought into the Tower. He under- 
takes to make it up to 40 lasts, so he may have payment. He 
was unwilling they should go to his country house, protesting 
he has no storehouse there. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cviii, 
No. 14.) 

1628, 4th July. John Doughty and John Barker to Nicholas. Answer 
from Capt. Heydon, that he could deliver no powder, until more 
store brought into the Tower. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cix, 
No. 28.) 



CHRONOLOGY 255 

1628, loth July. John Evelyn to Secretary Nicholas. Prays him to 
move the Duke of Buckingham that he may have ^2,000 that 
week, so that he may be able to keep together the 40 lasts of 
powder with which he has promised to supply the King's 
stores. He has borrowed ,1,700 of one man, and is weekly to 
pay to the petre men ,300 at least. Either he must make no 
more powder until he is paid, or, if he make powder, must sell it 
away to pay the saltpetre men and maintain his own works. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cix, No. 80.) 

1628, 3ist July. Certificate of Captain John Heydon and Sir Paul 
Harris, Master and Surveyor of the Ordnance, that they had 
found 40 barrels of powder in the storehouse of Mr. Felgate of 
Houndsditch, 20 of which were marked with the broad arrow, 
and were said to be part of 100 barrels sold by Mr. Evelyn to 
the Lord Chamberlain. The 40 barrels are kept in safe custody 
until further order. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxi, No. 45.) 

1628, i Qth November. Petition of John Giffard to the Council. He 

has authority for making saltpetre in the counties of Gloster, 
Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall, with power to take up carts 
and carriages for the said service. In September last he 
charged the Constable within the county of Gloucester to 
provide certain carts, but he was refused. He prays for letters 
of assistance. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxxi, No. 10.) 
1629 (?) Substance of the covenants with the saltpetre men since 1624. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. civ, No. 51.) 

1629. Prince Rupert, son of Queen of Bohemia, nephew of Charles I 
obtains a grant for ,300 per annum. He is said to have 
brought the practice of blasting to England, but this is doubtful, 
1670 being a more probable date of its introduction. (Rymer's 
" Foedera," xviii.) (The first shot was fired on 8th February, 
1627, in the Royal Mines at Schemnitz in Hungary; vide 
Guttmann, " Blasting.") 

1629, 5th April. Commission to Lord Richard Weston and others to 



256 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

work for saltpetre. (Patent Roll, 5 Charles I, pt. viii, No. 7 
dorso.) 

1629, loth April. The officers of the Ordnance to Lord Treasurer 
Weston. They report that there were 100 lasts of powder, and 
422 lasts of saltpetre in the Ordnance office. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cxl, No. 38.) 

1629, 2 ist April. Secretary Coke to Attorney General Heath. To 
renew the Commission for making saltpetre granted to the late 
Duke of Buckingham and Earl of Totness, to the Commissioners 
for the Admiralty and the present master of the Ordnance. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxli, No. 22.) 

1629, 25th April. Secretary Coke to Attorney General Heath. Not- 
withstanding the message sent by Sir Francis Cottington the 
saltpetre commission is to proceed according to the writer's 
former direction. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxli, No. 37.) 

1629, 6th May. Petition of John Skinner and various other persons to 
the Saltpetre Commissioners. Robert More, of Southwark, flax 
dresser, having obtained a deputation for making saltpetre in 
Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, and having no experience, know- 
ledge, or discretion, wasted and disabled the grounds, vexed and 
troubled the King's subjects, and kept back the hire of the 
petitioners, his servants. They pray the Commissioners to 
commiserate their case. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxlii, 
No. 32.) 

Annexing: Particulars of some of the wrongs done by 
Robert More, ready to be proved by several of the preceding 
petitioners. (Ibid., No. 32, i.) 

1629, 7th May. Note of the division of the shires among the petre- 
men, made by the Lord Treasurer, Lord Steward, and Sir John 
Coke. There were eight saltpetre men, among whom the whole 
kingdom was divided, and who were bound to a weekly sup- 
ply of certain quantities. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxlii, 
No. 42.) 



CHRONOLOGY 257 

1629, Qth May. Minute of application of John Giffard for direction to 
apprehend Thomas Guy, who having made quantities of salt- 
petre and gunpowder in Devon to the prejudice of Giffard, the 
Council granted a warrant for attaching Guy and seizing his 
goods and chattels. The latter was effected, but Guy himself 
escaped. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxlii, No. 57.) 

1629, 12th May. William King to the Lord President Con way. Prays 
him to solicit Lord Vere to appoint the writer to the Saltpetre 
works for the City of Gloucester and county of the City. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. cxlii, No. 67.) 

1629, 3 ist October. The council to the officers of the customs of the 
Port of London. Warrant to suffer the East India Company to 
export 50 tons of saltpetre, brought from the Indies, and 1,000 
barrels of gunpowder, the King's stores and Mr. Evelyn being 
sufficiently supplied. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cl, No. 108.) 

1629, 1 4th November. Petition of William Richardson the younger to 
the Lords Commissioners for the Admiralty and Saltpetre. He 
gave ^loofor a commission for making saltpetre in the counties 
of Worcester, Hereford, and Salop, and bestowed ^200 in 
necessary victuals; but on the death of the Earl of Totness was 
supplanted by John Giffard and Thomas Hilliard. Prays to be 
restored to his place. Endorsed is a note by Secretary Nicholas 
of the answer to this petition. The Lords displaced the peti- 
tioner, because he never brought in his proportion of saltpetre, 
but sold it away. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cli, No. 64.) 

Account of the saltpetre brought in by William Richard- 
son the elder, and William Richardson the younger from 
i August, 1627, to 30 April, 1629. (Ibid., No. 65.) 

1629, 22nd November. John Giffard to the Lords of the Admiralty. 
Reasons why he cannot leave the making of saltpetre in the 
counties of Worcester, Hereford, and Salop, without great 
prejudice to his reputation and estate. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. clii, No. 26.) 

s 



258 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1629, 22nd November. John Giffard to the Lords of the Admiralty. 

Reasons why he cannot leave the making of saltpetre in Cos. 
Worcester, Hereford, and Salop, without great prejudice to his 
reputation and estate. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clii, No. 
26.) 

i63o(?). Undated. Considerations on a proposal for making a store of 
saltpetre, in which the whole details of its production are stated. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxx, No. 4.) 

1630 (?). Lords of the Admiralty to the Mayor of Huntingdon etc. 
David Stevenson, Deputy for making saltpetre, having abused 
the country . . . the persons addressed are to certify what has 
been his misbehaviour or corruption, or that of his workmen. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol clxxx, No. 6.) 

i63o(?) Computation what his Majesty has been endamaged in seven 
years by the contracts made for converting saltpetre into gun- 
powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxx, No. 9.) 

1630. Account by Sec. Coke of the various patents for the manufac- 
ture of gunpowder in England, from 3rd. Elizabeth, when she 
gave ^500 to a Dutchman to teach two of her subjects tocnake 
saltpetre, down to 1630. There is added a suggestion for new 
contracts, both with the saltpetre men and the gunpowder maker. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxx, No. 10.) 

1630. Another estimate for the cost of converting 50 lasts of saltpetre 
into gunpowder. Total, ,4,751. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. clxxx, No. 14.) 

1630. Various lists of saltpetre men and their districts. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. clxxx, Nos. i, la, 2, and 3.) 

Petition of David Stevenson a saltpetre man to the Council. 
Stevenson has taken Leonard Pinckney to be his partner. 
(Ibid., No. 5.) 

A proposal for the supply of 240 lasts of gunpowder at %d. 
per lb., provided the King's officers would furnish the under- 
takers with a sufficient supply of saltpetre. (Ibid., No. 8.) 



CHRONOLOGY 259 

Suggestions for a new contract with the powder makers. 
(Ibid., No. n.) 

Estimate by Mr. Collins of the charge of making 240 
lasts of gunpowder, showing that the gain thereon to the con- 
tractors, if sold at %d. per pound amounted to ,4,192 i^s. (Ibid., 
No. 13.) 

Another estimate of the cost of converting 50 lasts of salt- 
petre into gunpowder. Total, ,4,751. (Ibid., No. 14.) 

Another similar estimate, more complete. It shows a profit 
on the 50 lasts, at the then present prices, of ,1,139 17^". ^d. 
(Ibid., No. 15.) 

1630, January. Petition of David Ramsey, 1 "Your Majesty's 
Servant " begging for patents for divers new inventions, viz. 
To multiply and make saltpetre in an open field in 4 acres of 
ground, to serve all your Majesty's dominions. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. clxxv, No. 58.) 

1630, 1 4th February. Sir Francis Seymour to Secretary Coke. The 
saltpetre men care not in whose houses they dig, threatening 
men that by their commission they may dig in any man's house, 
in any room, and at any time, which will prove a great grievance 
to the country. In the town where the writer lives they have 
digged up some malting rooms, and threaten to dig more. They 
dig up the entries and halls of divers men. If any oppose them 
they break up men's houses and dig by force. They make men 
carry their saltpetre at a groat a mile, and take their carriages 
in sowing time and harvest, with many other oppressions. 
Hopes that these men may not be allowed to strain their com- 
mission. The saltpetre man's name for Wilts is Hellyer. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. clxi, No. i.) 

1630, 2Oth February. Petition of Hugh Grove, Deputy for making 
saltpetre to the Lords of the Admiralty. Complains of Thomas 
Stallam and others of Thetford for refusing to carry saltpetre 
1 The clockmaker, courtier, and occult scientist. 



260 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

liquors. Prays that they may be sent for by warrant. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. clxi, No. 35.) 

1630, 2oth February. Petition of the deputies of the Lords of the 
Admiralty for making saltpetre to the same Lords. The powder 
maker refusing to weigh or pay for the saltpetre they delivered, 
they pray that if present order be not taken for relieving them, 
they may have leave to make their cause known to the King. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxi, No. 36.) 

1630, 6th March. Gabriel Dowse and others to the Lords of the 
Admiralty. The complaints of wrongs committed by Stevens the 
saltpetre man are so great that they had not been able to reduce 
them into method. Pray a respite of their certificate for a fort- 
night or three weeks. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxii, No. 40.) 

1630, 2oth March. Petition of Thomas Thornhill, saltpetre maker for 
London to the Commissioners for Saltpetre and Powder. Com- 
plains of the practice of Hugh Grove, by which petitioner was 
left out of the last commissions for London and is now sued for 
^24 per annum, and also for not delivering saltpetre. Prays a 
hearing, and the discharge of Grove's unjust suits. With a 
reference to Sir William Russell and others to certify what they 
conceive to be just. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxiii, No. 23.) 

1630, 23rd March. Thos. Bond to Nicholas. Understands that the 
Lords of the Admiralty have referred the collection of the proofs 
against the saltpetre men to two knights. . . . Hears that the 
saltpetre men make their vaunts that they will get their liberty 
and carry themselves in the country as formerly. ... If the 
saltpetre men go down without redress of wrongs it will strike 
despair into the heart of the country. . . . (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. clxiii, No. 40.) 

1630, April (?). Notes by the same (?Sec. Coke) respecting the way 
in which the saltpetre men had performed their contracts. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. clxv, No. 53.) 

1630, April. Articles proposed to be inserted in a new contract with 



CHRONOLOGY 261 

Mr. Evelyn for the supply of powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. clxv, No. 50.) 

Names of the saltpetre men, with the allotment amongst 
them of the several counties, and the proportions they were to 
furnish per week. (Ibid., No. 51.) 

Minutes of returns respecting the saltpetre men to be 
obtained through Mr. Evelyn from Hocker; with notes as to 
stipulations to be introduced into their contracts. (Ibid., No. 52.) 
Statement entitled " Directions for the Saltpetre business" 
of the course fit to be adopted with Mr. Evelyn and the salt- 
petre men. (Ibid., No. 54.) 

1630, 2oth April. Petition of the deputies for making saltpetre to the 
Lords of the Admiralty. They have often made known that 
they have so far engaged their estates and credits for the King's 
service that they are no longer able to continue the doing 
thereof. If they are suffered to be undone by doing his Majesty's 
service, the example would be so remarkable that men would be 
fearful to contract or lay out their estates in the King's or king- 
dom's service. They pray for payment or permission to sell to 
others. 

Secretary Nicholas has written upon this petition that there 
is order taking for the petitioner's satisfaction. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. clxiv, No. 77.) 

1630, 3Oth April. Sir William Russell, Sir John Wolsterholme, and 
Sir Kenelm Digby to the Lords of the Admiralty. Report on 
consideration of the complaints and examinations sent in against 
Mr. Milliard and Mr. Stephens, saltpetre men and their servants. 
According to the proofs there is no part of their commission 
which they have not extremely abused. As in digging in all 
places without distinction, as in parlours, bedchambers, thresh- 
ing and malting floors yea, God's own house they have not 
forborne; so they respect not times, digging in the breeding 
time in dovehouses, and working sometimes a month together, 



262 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

whereby the flights of doves are destroyed; and without respect 
to harvest time in barns and in malting houses, when green 
malt is upon the floor ; and bedchambers, placing their tubs by 
the bedside of the old and sick, even of women in childbed, and 
persons on their death-beds. They have undermined walls, and 
seldom fill up the places they have digged. In taking up carts 
they observe no seasons, and charge more carts than are needful, 
discharging some again for bribes, and overload the carts they 
employ. They do not pay the prices for carriage required by 
the commission. They take up coals not only where they are 
sold but from those that have fetched them 20 or 30 miles by 
land for their own winter's provision. They recommend that 
the offenders should be punished, and that the commission be 
taken in, and a new one made out, with restrictions designed to 
put an end to the abuses complained of. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. clxv, No. 38.) 

1630, 26th June. Petition of Nicholas Stephens, Deputy saltpetre man 
to the Lords of the Admiralty. The Lords having directed the 
Attorney-General to proceed against him in the Star Chamber, 
especially in the charge of digging in the church of Chipping 
Norton, he begs them to consider the declaration annexed, and 
to withdraw the order for proceeding in the Star Chamber. 

Annexing the declaration above alluded to. At a time of 
great want of saltpetre he removed only some waste and unneces- 
sary part of the soil of the church of Chipping Norton, as with the 
concurrence of the parishioners and ministers he had done in the 
churches of Coventry, Warwick, and Oxford. Other digging 
was done in his absence by his servant, whom he cast into 
Oxford gaol, and made satisfaction to the parishioners. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. clx, No. 46.) 

1630, 26th June. Petition of Richard Bagnall to the Lords of the 
Admiralty. Stephens the saltpetre man has expended i, 600 in 
increasing the mine of saltpetre. Petitioner having married 



CHRONOLOGY 263 

Stephen's daughter, prays that he may succeed him in his place. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, clxix, No. 47.) 

1630, July. Petition of Thomas Milliard, one of the saltpetre men, on 
behalf of himself and his servants to the Lords of the Admiralty. 
By commission dated April 28, 5 Charles I, they were author- 
ized to work for petre in the houses of any of His Majesty's 
subjects, and within privileged places. About January last, 
petitioner's workmen endeavoured to dig in the pigeon house of 
Thomas Bond, who disobeyed the commission, and complained 
against petitioner, and in February last procured him and his 
workmen to be sent for by warrant. They have ever since 
remained prisoners. Pray to be dismissed. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. clxxi, No. 79.) 

1630, 5th August. Alexander Feris to Sir John Heydon, Lieutenant 
General of the Ordnance. He appears to have made offers to 
the Lord Treasurer to supply gunpowder, but it does not state 
the rate and price. Mr. Evelyn had offered to serve in all the 
powder at 8J*/. the Ib. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxii, No. 23.) 

1630, 1 5th November. Petition of David Ramsey to the King. Has 
found out new inventions to make saltpetre in an open field of 
four acres to serve all His Majesty's dominions, with a minute 
that the King grants the letters patent solicited. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. clxxv, No. 58. The patent is enrolled. Patent 
Roll, 7 Charles I, pt. xxii, 18 dorso.) 

1631 (?). Answer of some unnamed persons desiring to contract for 
supply of powder; offering to do the work at %d. per Ib. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. ccvi, No. 53.) 

1631 (?). Division of the counties, with the proportions for making 
saltpetre per week, conceived to be most for the advancement 
of His Majesty's service. Annexed is a statement for the 
surplusage of three of the saltpetre men, contracted to be supplied 
above the proportions mentioned in this paper. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ccvi, No. 35.) 



264 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1631, 1 7th January. Licence to David Ramsey to put in practice 
during 14 years divers inventions for multiplying saltpetre, for 
raising water. ... (S. P. Dom. Charles I, Docquet 15. Patent 
No. 50 of 1630, 2ist January, in Patent Office.) 

1631, 2ist January. In List of Proclamations 21 Jan. 1631. David 
Ramsey and others ; licence to make saltpetre in an open field 
of four acres, sufficient to serve the kingdom, with other inven- 
tions and discoveries. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxxvii, 
No. 46.) 

1631, 2nd February. John Evelyn to Secretary Coke. Notwith- 
standing the commands given to the East India Company, 
Collins their workman proceeds in the making of gunpowder, 
having repaired two of their mills wherewith he makes 30 
barrels of powder weekly. His Majesty's deputies will not be 
able to continue that employment if this course be permitted. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxxiv, No. 4.) 

1631, 1 6th March. Thomas Thornhill to the Lords of the Admiralty. 
He complains of endeavours made to prevent the search for 
saltpetre, by laying soap ashes on the earth, paving cellars with 
stone, or filling them with gravel. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. clxxxvi, No. 102.) 

1631, April. Requests of Stephen Barrett, John Vincent, Thomas 
Hilliard, and five others, the Deputies of the Lords of the 
Admiralty for making saltpetre, to the same Lords. It being 
the pleasure of the Lords to renew or alter the Commission 
. under which the Deputies act, they set forth certain provisions 
which they desire to have inserted in the new Commission for 
their defence. Among other things, if forbidden to dig in 
bedrooms, they desire not to be debarred from digging in other 
rooms in dwelling houses; also that owners of dove houses and 
stables should be prohibited from adopting measures which 
prevent the growth of saltpetre; that owners of carriages may 
still be compellable to carry the saltpetre at 4^. a mile ; that the 



CHRONOLOGY 265 

Deputies may take wood ashes wherever found at a certain 
reasonable price; with other provisions framed in the same spirit 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxxix, No. 89.) 

1631, 1 6th April. Minute by Nicholas of business to be considered by 
the Lords of the Admiralty at their meeting this day ... a new 
commission for saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. clxxxviii, 
No. 76.) 

1631, 2Oth May. Petition of the Deputies for making saltpetre to the 
Lords of the Admiralty. About two years since petitioners 
contracted with the Lords of the Admiralty to furnish saltpetre 
for seven years whereupon they provided utensils of great value. 
It being their Lordships' pleasure to renew the contract with 
reduced proportions and increased price of carriages, and con- 
ditions so restrictive that, as may appear by the annexed reasons, 
they are not able to do the service, they pray for such a com- 
mission as shall enable them to perform the service and if the 
Lords raise the price of carriages, that they will give a propor- 
tionable price for petre. Annexed is paper giving further details. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxci, No. 73.) 

1631, i4th June. Matthew Goad, Deputy Clerk of the Star Chamber, 
to the Judges of the same Court. Certificate that in the cause 
of John Morley and others against Thos. Milliard and others, 
it is confessed in the answers of the defendants that some of 
them dug for saltpetre under the beds of persons who were sick 
therein, that compositions were taken for discharge of carts 
commanded to carry saltpetre, that Milliard hired horses to 
draw his wife's coach up and down the country at the King's 
price, and caused the country to carry coals for the work of 
saltpetre, and sold the same again to his own advantage. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cxciii, No. 83.) 

1631, 1 7th June. Commission to the Lord Treasurer and others to 
work and make saltpetre and gunpowder, by themselves or their 
deputies, within England and Ireland, according to former 



266 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

commissions, with alterations thought fit for the better further- 
ance of this service. (S. f. Dom. Charles I, Docquet 15.) 

1631, ist July. Commission to Lord Treasurer Weston, the Earls of 
Lindsey and Dorset, Secretary Dorchester, Horace Lord Vere, 
and Secretary Coke, to make saltpetre and gunpowder, with a 
variety of limitations of the power to be exercised by their 
deputies for making saltpetre, framed with the view of obviating 
recent complaints. (S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxxvii, fol. 
1026.) 

1631, 24th September. Robert Dreive and John Foyle to the Lords 
of the Admiralty. Have received information that John Coslett 
(Corseley) and William Baber, two powder makers of Bristol, 
have of late bartered with Thomas Hilliard, the saltpetre man, 
for the great quantities of his Majesty's saltpetre and have 
caused the same to be conveyed secretly in the night, in close 
sacks and barrels to Bristol, and have there converted the same 
into powder for their private benefit. The writers required 
Coslett and Baber by warrant to appear before them, but Baber, 
having some private foreknowledge, could not be spoken with, 
and Coslett refused to appear. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cc, 
No. 26.) 

1631, 3Oth September. Petition of the saltpetre makers to the Lords 
of the Admiralty. Pray for some order that the saltpetre they 
have made for the King's service may be received and paid for, 
or leave granted to petitioners to sell, and to his Majesty's 
subjects to buy the same, with the vessels and materials that 
lie useless upon loss and decay. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cc, 
No. 47.) 

1631, 3rd December. Attorney-General Noy to the Lords of the 
Admiralty. Has had conference with John Corseley and William 
Baber, powder makers and examined them. Baber has been a 
powder maker 1 2 years, and never licensed. Corseley was 
awhile licensed for provision of the shipping at Bristol. . . . 



CHRONOLOGY 267 

There are other makers about Bristol. Enclosed examinations 
of William Baber and John Corseley. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cciv, No. 9.) 

1632, nth February. Petition of the saltpetre makers to the Lords 
of the Admiralty. Have for a long time attended and been 
suitors to have their petre received, and to know how they were 
to be appointed and disposed of, with their vessels and materials 
provided for the King's service. They pray the Lords to 
hear their grievances. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxi, No. 

35-) 

1632, 24th February. Note of agreement with Mr. Evelyn, for 
supplying the King with powder for three years at Sal., the King 
to have the whole sale, and Evelyn to leave the business at a 
year's warning. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxi, No. 78.) 

Memorandum to take the name of the powder makers in 
Bristol from Mr. Evelyn, and to send for them by warrant, and 
also to give Mr. Attorney order about prohibiting the East India 
Company from making powder. (Ibid., No. 79.) 

1632, 5th May. The Council to all Mayors, Justices, etc. Warrant 
of assistance to Thomas Thornhill, authorized for the sole 
making of saltpetre in London and Westminster. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ccxvi, No. 20.) 

1632, 7th June. Indenture made between Lord Treasurer Weston, 
Robert Earl of Lindsey, Edward Earl of Dorset, Horace Lord 
Vere, Master of the Ordnance, and Secretary Coke on His 
Majesty's behalf, on the one part, and John Evelyn of Godstone, 
co. Surrey on the other part. Contract for converting all the 
saltpetre obtained for his Majesty in any part of his dominions 
into gunpowder, and delivering the same in certain quantities 
and at certain times and prices in this indenture stated. (S. P. 
Dom. Elizabeth, vol. ccxxxvii, fol. 122.) 

1632, 27th June. Examinations of petitions of Robert Powell, and 
others concerning the sale of saltpetre to private powder 



268 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

makers by Thomas Milliard, saltpetre man. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ccxix, Nos. 36, 42.) 

1632, 3oth June (?). Notes by Nicholas of business to be transacted by 

the Lords of the Admiralty. The saltpetre men and powder 
makers have been examined and attend their Lordships 
pleasure for their discharge. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxix, 
No. 53.) 

1633. Petition of Sir John Hungerford and Sir William Sandys, 
deputy Lieutenants for co. Gloucester, to the Council. They 
have undertaken to provide powder and match for the magazine 
of the Seven Hundreds of Cirencester. Pray a warrant to be 
furnished with 13 barrels of powder and match from Mr. Evelyn. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclvii, No. 59.) 

1633, 2oth March. Account of all the saltpetre brought into His 
Majesty's store, and delivered to Mr. Evelyn, from July 20, 
1632, to March 20, 1633; total brought in, 1,541 cwt. 3 qr. 
12 Ib. being a deficiency of 297 cwt. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. ccxxxiv, No. 28.) 

1633, I2tn November. The Lords of the Admiralty to Attorney- 
General Noy. By the deaths of the Earl of Pembroke and 
Viscount Dorchester the number of commissioners for making 
saltpetre and gunpowder (under commission of 8 April 5, 
Charles I) is diminished. A new commission is to be prepared, 
to the surviving commissioners, with Lord Cottington, Sir Henry 
Vane, Controller of the Household, and Sir Francis Windebank. 
(S. P. Dom, Charles I, vol. ccxxviii, f. 90.) 

1633, 1 6th November. The Lords of the Admiralty to John 
Hungerford and other J.P.s for Wilts, to enquire concerning 
complaints received, that divers persons make saltpetre in 
Sherston Magna, Wilts, without authority, and sell the same to 
Gunpowder makers in Bristol. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. ccxxviii, f. 940.) 

1633, 2oth November. Account by Richard Poole of the saltpetre 



CHRONOLOGY 269 

brought into His Majesty's store by the saltpetre men, and 
delivered to Mr. Evelyn, from 2Oth March, 1632, to this day. 
Total quantity 1,404 cwt. 2 qr. 22 Ib. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. ccli, No. 3.) 

1634. Notes, by Nicholas, on the King's gain upon the sale of 
powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxix, Nos. 48-50.) 

1 634 (?). Petition of Richard Bagnall, saltpetre man, as to one hogshead 
of saltpetre lost in transit, value 21 us. 8^. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cclxxix, No. 52.) 

1634, 1 4th March. A proclamation for the preservation of the mines 
of saltpetre. No dovehouse or dovecot or cellar to be 
paved, and no stables pitched paved or gravelled, where horse 
feet stand, but planked only. (Rymer's " Foedera," xix, p. 
601.) 

1634, 1 8th March. The Lords of the Admiralty to the Governor and 
Company of Soapboilers. Give orders that the saltpetre men 
are to have the pre-emption of wood ashes, on the ground that 
saltpetre is a commodity of such necessary use for the King and 
Public that it ought to be preferred before the making of soap. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxiii, No. i.) 

1634, 1 8th April. Commission to Richard Earl of Portland to work 
for saltpetre. (Patent Roll, 10 Charles I, p. 9, No. 2 dorso.} 

1634, igth April. Petition of John Carsley to the Admiralty. In 
i Charles I the King granted the city of Bristol leave to make 
400 or 500 barrels of powder yearly, to furnish their shipping. 
Petitioner was appointed by the city to make part of their 
powder, and spent ^200 in building a powder house. Because 
there is much old powder to be mended and no petre to be had, 
he begs that he may either have " 200 " of petre appointed to 
him weekly from some petremen adjoining Bristol, or that he 
may have Somerset or South Wales appointed him to make 
petre. (Endorsed that the petitioner enter into a bond of ^500 
not to make any more powder without licence, or else to be 



270 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

committed to a messenger.) (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxv, 
No. 91). 

1634, 24th April. Conditions offered to consideration touching the 
undertaking to make powder. (These are probably terms 
offered by Sir John Heydon, and submitted to the King. They 
comprise all such conditions as were binding on Mr. Evelyn, 
with some additions.) (Ibid., Nos. 31 and 3i(i) are questions 
on the same matter. S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxvi, No. 

3.) 

1634, 3rd May. Account, by Richard Poole, of saltpetre brought into 
store by the saltpetre men and delivered to Mr. Evelyn from 
May 3, 1633, to this day. Total, 115 lasts, n cwt. 3 qr. 27 Ib. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxvii, No. 29.) 

1634, 8th May. Statement by John Evelyn of the division of shires 
among the various saltpetre men, and the amount to be returned 
by each weekly, according to a single proportion in 1625, and a 
double proportion in 1629. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxvii, 
No. 59.) 

1634, 1 7th May. Petition of Edward Thornhill, saltpetre maker for 
cos. Herts, Bucks, Beds, and Northants, that Richard Faldoe 
may be associated with him. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxviii, 
No. 20.) 

1634, 1 8th May. Petition of Sir Philiberto Vernatti and John 
Battalion, of Yardley, co. Herts, to the King. Battalion had 
about a dozen years since been often admitted into the late 
King's presence, acquainting him with the secret of making 
excellent saltpetre and powder, of which also his Majesty has 
within these few days been likewise made acquainted by Sir 
Philiberto. They complain of certain impediments, the chief 
being that the King had granted a patent for making of petre 
out of the city excrements to Thomas Russell, and he was to 
furnish the storehouses with 300 tons of petre every year, but 
has never served any at all. They pray that Russell's patent 



CHRONOLOGY 271 

may be disannulled and granted to them. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cclxviii, No. 24.) 

1634, 22nd May. Petition of William Burrowes, one of the deputies 
for making saltpetre to the Lords of the Admiralty. He has 
for many years been deputy in cos. Notts, Leicester, Stafford and 
Derby, and has delivered a fuller proportion than was ever 
raised out of these counties, until, by the Jast commission he was 
restrained from most part of the ground fit for the same. He 
has always in the summer time performed this service, but in 
the winter could not, because all the men have their barns filled 
with corn; most of the dove-houses in those counties are lofts 
built from the ground, which, in other counties, afford much 
petre, of late, also, 2 potash works have been set up on either 
side of him, so that ashes are to be had only at double rates. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxviii, No. 49.) 

1634, 3ist May. Ordered that Timothy Thornhill may be associated 
with his father Thomas in the deputation for London for 
working saltpetre; and Thomas's son John, in the deputation 
for the counties that Hilliard formerly had. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cclxiv, f. 19.) 

1634, 3rd June. Certificate of the swearing of Walter Parker to be 
King's servant in ordinary for the manufacture of gunpowder 
for the King's own use. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxix, 
No. 38.) 

1634, 3rd June. Appointment of William Richardson, the younger 
saltpetre man for cos. York, Northumberland and Durham. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 3.) 

1634, 9th June. Richard Bagnall of North Morton, Berks, deputy for 
making saltpetre in Berks, to Secretary Nicholas. His diffi- 
culties in being denied access to pigeon houses, etc. He is tied 
to 8 Ibs. a week, but will not be able to perform 3 Ibs. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxix, No. 57; Ibid., 57, i. Deposition 
of the said Bagnall.) 



272 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1634, 1 4th June. List of the Saltpetre men. 

Order by the commissioners on petition of Stephen Barrett, 
a saltpetre man for 20 years, but restrained by the late commis- 
sioners. John Evelyn to certify as to his ability. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 219.) 

1634, 1 6th June. Bond in ^200 by Richard Watts alias Martin; 
Roger Powell of Sherston Magna, Wilts, husbandmen, and 
Thomas Davis of do. yeoman, to deliver 2 cwt. of saltpetre 
within 40 days at the King's storehouse for saltpetre in London, 
or in Southwark at the Bell. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxix, 
No. 91.) 

1634 (?) July. Statement (by Nicholas ?) of the various prices paid by 
the King for gunpowder and saltpetre, under contracts with the 
gunpowder maker and saltpetre men in 1632 and 1634, and the 
greater advantage derived by the King under the latter. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 223.) 

1634, iith July. Certificate that since 16 May John Giffard had 
delivered 97 cwt. 27 Ibs. of saltpetre into the King's store. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxi, No. 60.) 

1634, 1 7th July. Order by the commissioners for saltpetre on complaint 
of Thomas Thornhill, saltpetre man for the greatest part of 
Co. Somerset, that John Giffard the saltpetre man appointed for 
Bristol and 10 miles round, had set up his works in Bath. 

Giffard to continue his works for this season, and when 
seasonable to work the same grounds again, Thornhill to have 
the working thereof. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, 
p. 222.) 

1634, 3rd November. Account by Richard Poole, of saltpetre brought 
into His Majesty's store by the saltpetre men, and delivered to 
Mr. Evelyn from May 3 last to this day. Total, 1,406 cwt. 2 qr. 
20 Ib. which was 75 cwt. i qr. 8 Ib. less than the assigned 
proportion. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxvii, No. 9.) 

1634, 1 5th November. Richard Bagnall, saltpetre man to Nicholas. 



CHRONOLOGY 273 

Sends enclosed list of names of those who have lately carried 
forth their earth in their pigeon houses. If some course be not 
taken others will do the same, and it will be impossible for the 
saltpetre men to supply their great proportions, besides destroy- 
ing the mine. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxvii, No. 52.) 

Annexed list (52. i) above mentioned. 

It contains names of persons in cos. Oxford and Warwick. 
1634, 22nd November. The Lords of the Admiralty to the Attorney 
directing him to consider the new commission for making 
saltpetre and gunpowder, giving, in minute detail, the directions 
to be issued to J.P.s with regard to the preservation of 
grounds for making saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Charles, vol. cclxiv, 

f. 52.) 

1634, 26th November. The Lords of the Admiralty to Montjoy Earl 
of Newport. His Majesty is resolved to take into his hands 
and disposition all the gunpowder made of the saltpetre of the 
kingdom, for better furnishing his occasions and those of his 
subjects. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxvii, No. 96.) 

1634, 2nd December. Petition of John Giffard, saltpetre man to the 

Lords of the Admiralty. His hindrances by refusal of people in 
Gloucester to carry coal from the adjacent pits to his boiling- 
house in Thornburg; also because they carry off the earth from 
their pigeon-houses to manure their lands. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cclxxviii, No. 4.) 

1635. Proposal of Mr. Evelyn, that if the sole making and selling of 
gunpowder were taken into the King's hands, the stores being 
first furnished, the residue might be sold to the subject at lod. 
per Ib. which would give the King a profit of ,3,000 per annum. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccvi, No. no.) 

Report from the Lords of the Admiralty as Commissioners 
of saltpetre to the Council. It was not fit at this time to break 
the contract for powder, lest the present supply should be 
a-wanting. Mr. Evelyn could make a larger proportion of gun- 



274 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

powder, if he might receive a greater quantity of saltpetre. 
They suggest that the Lords should permit any man to make 
powder of foreign saltpetre. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccvi, 
No. 112.) 

Estimate of the cost and profit of converting 50 lasts of 
saltpetre into gunpowder. The cost of materials and manufac- 
ture for 50 lasts is estimated at 3,280; the return at *]d. per Ib. 
is put down at ,3,500; the clear gain would therefore be 220. 
Upon 100 lasts the profit would be .600, or if the powder were 
sold at i\d. per Ib. , "1,100. Upon 240 lasts the profit at yd. is 
.1,994 15*., or at 7^., "3,194 i5 J - (Ibid., No. 113.) 

Notes and calculations relating to the supply of saltpetre 
and the manufacture of gunpowder. To make 240 lasts of 
gunpowder requires 240 lasts of saltpetre. Italian brimstone 
varies in price from 22 shillings, to near 30 shillings a cwt., and 
coal of alder wood is worth two pence per Ib. (Ibid., No. 1 14.) 

1635, T 9 tn January. Order of the King in Council. Concerning the 
authorizing of the Officers of the Ordnance to sell gunpowder 
to the King's subjects. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxxii, 
No. 62.) 

I ^35i 7th February. Petition of Thomas Thornhill, saltpetre maker, 
complaining that Toby Atkins of Hazelburg, Somerset, wrought 
all ab9ut Wells and Bridgewater, and sold the saltpetre to the 
powder makers of Bristol. Henry Goodman does the same all 
round Taunton, so that petitioner has no ground left to 
work upon, but such as they refuse. In London the cellars and 
vaults, where the mine of saltpetre used to grow, are so destroyed 
with paving and pitching, that, if some speedy course be not 
taken, all the mines will be destroyed. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cclxxxiii, No. 18.) 

1635, 4th March. Minute of a treaty between the Lords of the 
Admiralty and John Evelyn concerning the renewing of his 
contract for making gunpowder. Evelyn offered to supply 



CHRONOLOGY 



275 



20 lasts of gunpowder every month, provided a sufficient quan- 
tity of saltpetre were delivered to him for that purpose. He 
would pay the saltpetre man after the rates expressed in his 
former contract. He stipulated for the sole making of powder 
in this kingdom. If not paid by the King within 14 days after 
delivery he desired permission to sell the powder for his own 
benefit. He told the Lords that he could not deliver powder at 
<$d. per Ib. by reason the King takes the sale thereof into his 
own hands. Thereupon the Lords thought not fit to treat any 
further with Evelyn, but rather to deal with others who offered 
to contract at easier rates. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxxiv, 
No. 18.) 

1635, I3th March. Order of Council. The Lords Commissioners for 
Gunpowder and Saltpetre with the Master of the Ordnance are 
to treat with Mr. Evelyn or any other they shall think fit, for 
making gunpowder for his Majesty. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cclxxxiv, No. 71.) 

1635, 1 4th March. Proclamation for preservation of grounds for 
making saltpetre, and to restore such grounds as are now 
destroyed, commanding all to give assistance to the saltpetre 
makers. Paving of cellars and vaults, flooring of dovehouses, is 
strictly prohibited. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, Proclamations 
No. 189.) 

1635, 25th March. Special commission to the Earl of Arundell and 
others for. the sale of gunpowder. (Rymer's " Foedera," xix, 
p. 603.) 

1635, ist April. Entry on the Admiralty register of the appearance of 
Walter Parker gunpowder maker of Stockwood, Dorset. (Ibid., 
vol. cclxiv, f. 104.) 

1635, 4th April. Petition of said Walter Parker, who has been a gun- 
powder maker since '88. If he has transgressed the King's 
command it was done in ignorance. The King himself has made 
trial of the petitioner's powder, and upon approbation thereof 



276 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

caused Parker to be sworn his servant in ordinary. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxxxvi, No. 27.) 

1635, 1 6th April. At a meeting of the Commissioners for Trade, the 
King told the Commissioners that Sir Arthur Mainwaring and 
Pitcairn will serve powder within half a year at 8</. per Ib. The 
Earl of Newport and Sir John Heydon offer to make it, with a 
stock at 7</. the Ib. " Six, one and one" is six parts of saltpetre, 
one of coal, and one of brimstone. If upon His Majesty's stock 
of ,4,000, the Earl of Newport and Sir John Heydon will serve 
it for yd. ; if upon their own stock, they will serve it for %d. 
Evelyn to furnish powder at $d. for six months after the contract 
ended. 16 lasts the month. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxxiii, 
No. 13.) 

1635, 1 8th April. Parker is ordered to find security not to sell powder 
to any but the King. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxxxvii, No. i.) 

1635, 1 8th April. Admiralty order to enquire concerning complaints of 
Thomas Thornhill that divers persons in Somerset, contrary to 
proclamations, have carried forth the earth out of their dove- 
houses, and divers inn- keepers have paved their stables, by 
which practices the mine of saltpetre is destroyed. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cclxiv, f. 115.) 

1635, 25th April. Note of business transacted by the Lords of the 
Treasury. The East India Company desiring to send a quantity 
of saltpetre beyond sea, the Lords thought the King should 
have the quantity he is to buy of them at 3 3^. 4^. per ton, 
before they transport theirs. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxxv, 
No. 7.) 

1635, 3rd May. Account by Richard Poole of saltpetre brought into 
His Majesty's store by saltpetre men, and delivered to Mr. 
Evelyn from Nov. 3, 1634; total 1,290 cwt, 3 qr. 18 Ib. which 
is 71 lasts 12 cwt. 3 qr. 18 Ib. and is 321 cwt. 10 Ib. less than 
the assigned proportion. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cclxxxviii, 
No. 27.) 



CHRONOLOGY 277 

1635, May. 28. Draft renewed contract of John Evelyn of Godstone, 
Surrey, with the King. Evelyn stipulates to deliver monthly 
for six months from the ist inst. 16 lasts of gunpowder at %d. 
per Ib. and to take all saltpetre made in the realm, paying for 
the same $ $s. 4^. per cwt. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. 
cclxxxix, No. 6 1.) 

1635, June 6. Proposition of Sir Arthur Mainwaring and Andrew 
Pitcairn, touching the manufacture of gunpowder. They will 
contract to supply 240 lasts of gunpowder yearly, if a sufficient 
quantity of saltpetre be delivered to them. They are to be paid 
8d. per Ib. for the gunpowder, and will pay 3 y. ^d. for every 
112 Ibs. of saltpetre. His Majesty having present occasion for 
40 lasts of saltpetre to be converted into gunpowder, over and 
above the contracted proportion of 240 lasts per annum, the 
proposers engage that within 14 days they will work upon the 
said petre with their three mills, and make six lasts monthly, 
and complete the 40 lasts by the end of October. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ccxc, No. 42.) 

1635, 2oth June. Order on petition of John Reynolds, master gunner 
of England and proof-master for gunpowder, who for 12 years 
has had an allowance of 6d. every barrel of one cwt. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cclxiv, p. 137.) 

1635, 4th July. The commissioners of saltpetre cancel Stephen 
Barrett's l appointment, because he has failed to bring in his 
proportion; Hugh Grove appointed in his stead. Barrett is 
therefore to strike his works and return his deputation. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 230.) 

1635, 4th July. Warrant to pay the Governor and Committees of the 
East Indian Company for 40 lasts of double refined saltpetre, 
after the rate of 4 per hundred, or for so much as shall be de- 
livered to his Majesty's powder maker. (S. P. Dom. Docquets, 
vol. xvi, under date.) 
1 For cos. Cambridge, Hunts, Lincoln etc., ibid., vol. ccxcii, p. 231. 



278 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1635, i4th July. Notes by Nicholas of proceedings at a meeting of the 
commissioners for ordnance. 

John Evelyn to be spoken with about powder sold to the 
King at \2d. per lb., the retailer in London was to sell the same 
at i$d., and in the country at 14^.; also about the supply of 
musket, pistol and birding powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. ccxcii, No. 112.) 

1635, 9th October. Deed of covenant between the Earl of Lindsey 
and others, on the King's behalf of the one part and John 
Evelyn of Godstone, Surrey, of the other part. Evelyn to have 
the sole making of gunpowder from Nov. i next for one year; 
to pay ^3 3-5'. \d. a cwt. for all saltpetre brought in by the 
saltpetre men, to convert the same petre into gunpowder to be 
delivered to his Majesty's stores in the Tower by 20 lasts a 
month, every last containing 24 barrels, and every barrel 100 lb., 
such powder to be paid for at the rate of %d. per lb. and to be 
made of six-eight parts of double refined saltpetre, one eighth 
part of Naples brimstone, and the remaining eighth part of coal. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 191.) 

1635 (? November.) Draft of Indenture between the Lords of the 
Admiralty as commissioners for saltpetre and gunpowder on 
the part of his Majesty and Edward Collins of Chilworth, 
Surrey. 

His Majesty having contracted with the Company of 
London Merchants trading to " East Indies" for a quantity of 
saltpetre to be brought from foreign ports, it had been agreed 
with Collins that he should for one year have the sole making 
into gunpowder of the aforesaid foreign saltpetre to the quantity 
of 100 lasts. 

He is to pay $ $s. ^d. per cwt. for the gunpowder, and to 
receive yd. per lb. for the manufactured powder. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cccii, No. 119.) 

1635 (November). Indenture between (the Lords of the Admiralty as 



CHRONOLOGY 279 

Commissioners for Saltpetre and Gunpowder) on the part of 
his Majesty and Edward Collins of Chil worth, Surrey. His 
Majesty having contracted with the company of London Mer- 
chants trading "to East Indies" fora quantity of saltpetre to 
be brought from foreign parts, it had been agreed with Collins 
that he should for one year have the sole making into gun- 
powder of the aforesaid foreign saltpetre to the quantity of 
100 lasts. The present deed contains the stipulations deemed 
necessary for carrying out this agreement. Collins was to pay 
for the saltpetre at the rate of $ $s. ^d. per cwt. and was to 
receive jd. per Ib. for the gunpowder which he was to manu- 
facture. (Draft with many blanks.) (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cccii, No. 1 19.) 

1635, 3rd November. Account by Richard Poole of all saltpetre 
brought into his Majesty's store from May 3 to this day. 
Besides the amount brought in by the saltpetre men, the East 
India Company had brought in 801 cwt. 19^ Ib. which made 
the total brought in 2,259 cwt. 2 qr. :6J Ib. which was 93 cwt. 
2 qr. 3 Ib. less than the quantity assigned to be brought in by 
the saltpetre men only. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccci, No. 10.) 

1636 (?.) Francis Vincent, saltpetre man, to the Lords of the Admiralty. 
Complains against Nicholas Carpenter and Richard Tiler, who 
being warned to furnish carts to carry liquor from Cheam to his 
Majesty's saltpetre house in Kingston, being four miles, denied 
the same, and being called before Sir Nicholas Carew, stood 
upon a privilege they had. Sir Nicholas bound them to answer 
before the Lords, who ordered them to perform the service and 
to give Vincent satisfaction for his loss and charges, which latter 
they still refuse to do. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxli, 
No. 69.) 

i636(?) Petition of Robert Davies to the Council. According to their 
order petitioner had delivered all the saltpetre he had in hand 
to the Officers of the Ordnance amounting to 7 cwt. and a half 



2 8o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

and 8 Ibs. Much of it was of the same sort as the Lords buy 
from the Barbary merchants at 45^. a cwt. but it cost petitioner 
$ i$s. od. Prays payment according to the rate he gave for it. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, cccxli, No. 70.) 

1636. Minutes of Mr. Evelyn's petitions. He prays allowance for 
1,135 barrels of gunpowder made with his own saltpetre, also 
for losses by pounds, mills, and other workhouses erected for 
the public service ; also for a legal discharge of his contracts for 
making gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxli, No. 79.) 

1636, 5th January. Petition of the corporation of Norwich to the 
commissioners of Saltpetre, as to endangering of the foundations 
of Norwich by Nathaniel Sykes and his workmen digging for 
saltpetre. There are other papers connected with this matter, 
showing detail of damages, etc. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. 
cccxi.) 

1636, i Qth January. Order of Council. The King is resolved to take 
to himself all saltpetre made in England and Wales, and to sell 
such powder as is made thereof, over and above that which 
shall be necessary for his own service. Order is therefore made 
to carry out the same. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxi, 
No. 84.) 

1636, i ith February. Notes by Nicholas of business transacted by the 
Lords of the Admiralty. Order on the petition of the saltpetre 
men concerning ashes for want whereof their works are at a 
stand. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxiii, No. 84.) 

1636, 2oth February. Prohibition of importation of gunpowder. Also 
to sell at is. 6d. per Ib. within 30 miles from London or any of 
H.M. Ports, otherwise at is. 8J^. per Ib. (Rymer's " Foedera," 
xx, p. 107.) 

1636, March. The Council to Sir William Russell. The 34 ships 
appointed to go out require 124 lasts, 5 cwt. of powder, at I2d. 
per Ib. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxvii, No. 101.) 

1636, 3rd April. Account rendered by Richard Poole of all the salt- 



CHRONOLOGY 281 

petre brought into His Majesty's stores, and delivered to 
Mr. Evelyn, from Nov. 3, 1635, to April 3, 1636. The sum 
total was 1,288 cwt. i qr. 15^ Ib. which was 193 cwt. less 
than the proportion assigned. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxviii, 
No. 13.) 

1636, 7th April. The Lords of the Admiralty to Attorney General 
Bankes, directing him to prepare a bill for the royal signature 
containing a like commission for making saltpetre and gun- 
powder as was renewed in April, 1634, to be directed to Lord 
Treasurer Juxon, the Earls of Lindsey, Dorset and Newport, 
Lord Cottington, Mr. Comptroller (Sir Henry Vane), and 
secretaries Coke and Windebank. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cccxviii, No. 38.) 

1636, 7th April. Richard Poole to the Lords of the Admiralty. Ac- 
cording to command he certified the reasons of the petremen's 
failings in their proportions. 

(1) That wood ashes are so scarce, they can hardly be got 
at all. Those the petremen get cost io^d. or nd. a bushel 
which theretofore they got for ^d. 

(2) The unwillingness of most of the King's subjects to do 
anything for this service. 

(3) The destruction of dove cotes. 

(S, P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxviii, No. 40.) 

1636, 7th April. Petition of Hugh Grove, saltpetre man to the Lords 
of the Admiralty. He has erected a work at Cambridge costing 
^200, and sustains loss by want of assistance with carts, etc. Most 
of the inhabitants pretend they are privileged; the rest say they 
cannot do the work. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxviii, 
No. 42.) 

1636, 29th April. Proposition for making gunpowder by new con- 
tractors. They offer to make 240 lasts of powder yearly by 
20 lasts a month, at j^d. per Ib. for seven years from Nov. i, 
1636. They stipulate for ,2,000 to be imprested by His 



282 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Majesty towards the building of mills and furnishing utensils, 
which at the expiry of the contract are to be delivered to His 
Majesty's use; they are to have the sole making of gunpowder 
in England and Ireland, to pay for saltpetre at $ $s. ^d. the 
cwt. The King will thereby save ,1,200 per annum. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxix, No. 69.) 

1636, 29th April. Notes by Nicholas of business transacted by the 
Lords of the Admiralty. Consider the proposition of the under- 
taker for making gunpowder. Hear complaints of saltpetre men. 
Suspension of Brooke and admission of Stephen (Steventon). 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxix, No. 66.) 

1636, iith May. Order of Council. The contract made with Mr. 
Evelyn for furnishing gunpowder being almost expired, it is 
ordered that the Commissioners for gunpowder and saltpetre 
forthwith contract with Samuel Cordwell and Thomas Collins 
or with any other they shall think best. (S, P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cccxx, No. 72.) 

1636, 1 7th May. Minute by Nicholas of proceedings at a conference 
between the Governor and company of soapmakers and the 
saltpetre men. The latter proposed 

(1) That the potash makers be restrained from gathering 
ashes within 1 2 miles of any of the saltpetre men's pitches. 

(2) That a strict course be taken to prevent the exportation 
of ashes. 

(3) That no ash-gatherers be permitted, unless licensed by 
the potash makers and saltpetre men. 

There are other papers relative to the rivalry of the soap- 
makers and saltpetre men for ashes. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. cccxxi, No. 33.) 

1636, i gth May. William Lord Bishop of London, High Treasurer 
of England, Thomas Earl of Arundel and Surrey, Edward 
Earl of Dorset, Mountjoy Earl of Newport, Edward Viscount 
Wimbledon, Francis Lord Cottington, Sir John Coke, Sir 



CHRONOLOGY 283 

Francis Windbank to be Commissioners for Ordnance with 
authority to sell powder according to their discretion. (Rymer's 
" Foedera," xx, p. 17.) 

1636, Qth June. . Westminster. Warrant to the Exchequer to pay out 
of the ,3,000 lately received^ by Sir John Heydon, Lieutenant 
General of the Ordnance, from Sir William Russell, ^854 i ^s. &d., 
viz. to the East India Co. ^170, and to Edward Sherborne, 
Clerk of the Ordnance, .571 os. lod. for unrefined saltpetre 
delivered by them, upon the King's command to Edward 
Collins to be double refined for the King's service, and to the 
widow and executrix of the said Collins ^"100 iqs. lod. for his 
pains in such double refining, and ^13 more for his pains in 
making one last of powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. 325, 
No. 83.) 

1636, December. Petition of Samuel Cordewell and George Collins, 
his Majesty's powder makers to the Lords of the Admiralty. 
The Lords have covenanted with petitioners that no person, 
from the end of October last past, during the existence of 
petitioner's contract, shall make any powder besides petitioners. 
Yet Mr. Evelyn, the late powder maker, still continues working, 
to the prejudice of his Majesty's service and disabling petitioners 
to perform their contract, for Mr. Evelyn works out the salt- 
petre which petitioners should have. Pray order that Mr. 
Evelyn may be suppressed from making more powder. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. cccxxxviii, No. 49.) 

1636, 24th December. Contract made with "our gun powder makers " 
Samuel Cordwell and George Collins for the sole making and 
converting into gunpowder of all saltpetre for the space of 
13 years. Powder to be bought at J^d. per Ib. (Rymer's 
" Foedera," xx, p. 96. See also Patent Roll, 12 Charles I, pt. ii, 
No. 19 dorso.} 

i637(?) Petition of Deputies for saltpetre to the Commissioners for 
saltpetre and gunpowder. Mr. Cordewell, the powder maker, 



284 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

contrary to the contract made by you with us your Deputies, 
refuses to pay for our saltpetre. Having laid out our estates 
in this service, having great store of petre in hand, and this 
being the time to make our provisions to go on with the work 
in winter, we are enforced to represent that, except our salt- 
petre be taken off our hands, and money paid for the same, we 
must strike our works, and discharge our servants, which will 
be to our extreme loss, besides the prejudice to the King's 
service. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxxvi, No. 155.) 

1636-7. Whitehall. Commissioners for gunpowder, to Montjoy, Earl 
of Newport, Master of the Ordnance. To issue 25 barrels of 
gunpowder at the price of 18^. per pound for furnishing the 
Jonas, whereof Capt. Pyn is master and the pinnace, the Eagle, 
whereof Thomas Stevens is master, bound for the East Indies. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccl, No. 19.) 

1637, 4th April. Officers of the Ordnance to Montjoy, Earl of 
Newport, Master-General of the Ordnance. By Letters of 
the Lords of the Admiralty of 2nd of last month, the writers 
are required to search for all Mr. Evelyn's contracts from 
2oth James I, and to certify whether any moneys were imprested 
to Mr. Evelyn, whether Mr. Evelyn was not obliged when the 
King did not take off his powder, to sell it to the subject at a 
certain price; whether upon sale of powder he was accountable 
in any sort to His Majesty; and, lastly, whether the former 
contracts have been duly performed. The writers report fully 
on the contents of all the contracts, and the variations between 
them, and on all the other points indicated. They also insert 
tabular statements of all the powder Mr. Evelyn was bound 
to bring in, and how much he had actually delivered. Upon 
the whole contracts they report that there was wanting of 
the total quantity which Mr. Evelyn contracted to bring in, 
1480 lasts. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclii, No. 27.) 

1637, 25th April. Mountjoy Earl of Newport and others authorized 



CHRONOLOGY 285 

to make choice of and license retailers for gunpowder. (Patent 
Roll, 13 Charles I, pt. xxx, No. 7 (torso.) 

1637, 3rd May. Whitehall. Lords of the Admiralty to Montjoy, 
Earl of Newport, Master of the Ordnance. 

To issue 28 barrels of gunpowder at i8df. per pound to 
the Mayflower, William Beddiloe, Master, and 36 barrels to the 
Pleiades, James Hall, master, employed in His Majesty's 
service. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclv, No. 60.) 

1637, 3rd May. Whitehall. Draft minute of same for entry in book 
of such warrants. (Ibid.'] 

1637, 3rd May. Entry of the same. (Ibid.) 

Draft minute of similar warrant for 36 barrels of gunpowder 
to be supplied to the Richard and Mary, Nicholas Hilson, 
Master. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclv, No. 61.) 

1637, 3rd May. Entry of the same. (Ibid.) 

1637, 22nd May. London House. Minute of agreement between 
the Lords of the Admiralty and Alderman Garraway and 
others, on behalf of the East India Co., that they shall have 
$ IQS. per cwt. for the foreign saltpetre they now have; and of 
a further agreement with Samuel Cordewell that he shall have 
^"4 us. 8d. per cwt. for so much of the said saltpetre as he 
should refine. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 48.) 

1637, 2 2nd May. Samuel Cordewell to the Lords of the Admiralty. 
That such saltpetre as the East India Merchants have brought 
over may be had, for otherwise " my mills must stand still." 
That he may renew the powder taken out of the Anne. (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclvii, No. 38.) 

1637, 3rd June. Articles exhibited to the Commissioners for Salt- 
petre by Christopher Wren, Dean of Windsor, and Rector of 
Knoyle Magna or Epicopi, Wilts, against Thomas Thornhill, 
saltpetreman, for damage done by digging for saltpetre in the 
pigeon-house of the said rectory. There have been two diggings 
in this pigeon-house, one by Helyar, whom Thornhill then 



286 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

served, about eight years ago, the other by Thornhill in March, 
1636-7. On the first occasion, the pigeon-house, built of massy 
stone walls 20 ft. high, was so shaken that the Rector was 
forced to buttress up the east side thereof. On the last occasion 
the foundation was undermined, and the north wall fell in. 
The loss to the Rector had been that of three breeds, whereof 
the least never yielded fewer than 30 or 40 dozen, and of the 
whole flight, which forsook the house, an.d the Rector stands 
endangered to the law for dilapidations. Thornhill has refused 
all recompense, telling the Dean that the King must bear him 
out. The Dean desires that Thornhill may make full recom- 
pense according to the King's pleasure signified on behalf of 
the Dean, who is registrar of the Garter, at the last chapter of 
the Order in Whitehall on i8th April last. Underwritten: 

8.1. Order of the Lords that Thornhill answer these 
articles by that day sennight. Whitehall, 3rd June, 1637. 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxi, No. 8.) 

1637, 7th June. Bishop of London and others obtain authority similar 
to that of 18/4/1634 for digging saltpetre and making it into 
powder. (Patent Roll, 13 Charles I, pt. xxx, No. 3 dorso. Also 
House of Lords Papers, Hist. MSS. Comm., rep. 4, p. 22.) 

1637, September. Petition of William Felgate, Edmund Beane, 
Robert Russell, Thomas Frere, and others, provisioners of 
gunpowder for shipping to the Lords of the Admiralty. His 
Majesty having taken into his hand the sale of powder to his 
subjects at izd. per pound, petitioners took out of his store in 
one year to the value of near , 10,000. His Majesty has lately 
set the price at i%d. per Ib. and ordered that none be bought or 
sold without licence, from the Earl of Newport, unto whom 
petitioners addressed. He referred them to his Secretary, Mr. 
Barnard, to make their conditions, which were to pay His 
Majesty \%d. per Ib., and to Lord Newport id. per. Ib. 'besides 
petty charges, which rate is so great that petitioners refused to 



CHRONOLOGY 287 

take licences. Pray leave to buy or sell powder at such price 
as you think fit. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxviii, No. 112.) 

1637, ist November. Account by Richard Poole of saltpetre brought 
into his Majesty's store, and delivered to Samuel Cordewell, 
the powder maker, from ist May 1637, to this day. The total 
brought in was 128 lasts, i quarter and 13 Ibs. of which 35 lasts 
15 cwts. had been brought in by merchants and the remainder 
by the saltpetre men. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxxi, 
No. 3.) 

1637, 6th November. John Evelyn on account of faithful and honest 
dealing was discharged of the ^"2,000 lent him having released 
the King of ^989 owing for gunpowder. (Patent Roll, 13 
Charles I, pt. xvii, No. 5.) 

1637, 1 7th November. Office of Ordnance. Officers of Ordnance to 
Lords of the Admiralty. Mr. Cordewell has brought into his 
Majesty's Magazine from ist November 1636 to 7th November 
1637 several quantities of good corn gunpowder, of which a 
detailed account is given, and which amount in the whole to 
240 lasts, which is his full year's proportion according to his 
contract. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxxi, No. 117.) 

1637, 1 6th December. Whitehall. The Lords of the Admiralty to 

the Earl of Newport. About 20 tons of saltpetre, being by a 
Dutch merchant bought in Barbary of English factors, after his 
Majesty had contracted for all that should be made there, is 
unladen and put into the Custom House, London. As H.M. 
gunpowder maker complains that he wants saltpetre to keep his 
mills in work, we pray you to order the officers of the ordnance 
to appoint persons to set an indifferent price on the said salt- 
petre, that we may take order for payment and for delivery 
thereof, to be made fit for His Majesty's use. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cccliii, f. 75.) 

1638, 26th June. Earl of Worcester to Cromwell. Keeps from him 

nothing that was in the ship except one piece of ordnance and 



288 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

two barrels of powder which Sir Thomas Spert gave him. Has 
used part of two other barrels of powder, for which he has 
offered to make recompense. (S. P. Henry VIII, sec. 133, 
p. 210.) 

1639, Qth February. Whitehall. Order to the commissioners for 
saltpetre. All the saltpetre made in the Kingdom is not enough 
by above 40 lasts, to make the proportion of gunpowder which 
H.M. gunpowder maker is by contract obliged to make yearly 
for his Majesty's service, insomuch as there is necessarily every 
year to be bought a great quantity of foreign saltpetre. The 
Lords did this day order that, on any contract made for any 
foreign saltpetre, notice shall be given to the office of ordnance, 
how much is contracted for, of whom, at what rate, to the end 
entry may be made in the said office accordingly, to remain 
upon register as a charge for the said gunpowder-makers 
account. 

Likewise that Mr. Poole, who keeps account of all the 
home-made saltpetre, shall be hereby requested to keep a 
distinct register of the product of each parcel of foreign salt- 
petre that shall be delivered to His Majesty's gunpowder 
maker. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, p. 97.) 

1639, 2/th April. Office of Ordnance. Officers of ordnance to Sec. 
Windebank. Upon information that there was secretly brought 
into the house of Robert Davies, of Thames Street, divers 
barrels of powder which we conceived might be either foreign 
or embezzled out of some of His Majesty's ships, we granted a 
search warrant to our messenger, and perceive by his return 
that he has found the following: 8 cwt. saltpetre, about 10 
bushels small coal, some sulphur, 4 mortars of wood and pestles, 
2 brass pans, 6 bushels wood ashes and one searcher or sieve, 
whereby it is probable that Davies privately makes powder 
having all things necessary, and in regard he heretofore used 
that trade in Whitechapel parish, where by accident he had his 



CHRONOLOGY 289 

house blown up. The neighbours near Davies are very fearful 
that some unhappy accident may befall if he be suffered either 
to keep any great quantity of powder in his house or to make 
powder there, and therefore they have entreated us to make 
known the same to you that such order may be taken with him 
as you shall think fit, he having formerly been questioned before 
the Board for the like occasion and bond taken of him not to 
make any more powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccccxviii, 
No. 69.) 

1639, 1 2th November. Office of Ordnance. Officers of Ordnance to 
the Council. According to your direction we have examined 
our book of accounts, and find that Mr. Cordewell, his Majesty's 
gunpowder maker has brought into the Tower of London from 
the i;th Nov. 1638 to the loth inst. being the third year of his 
contract 240 lasts of gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. ccccxxxii, No. 45.) 

1639-40, 2nd January. Answer of Francis Coningesby, surveyor of 
the Ordnance to the Lords' directions signified by Nicholas the 
1 6th Dec. 1639. He never received any fee from any artificer 
or others delivering provisions into his Majesty's stores, except 
occasionally a small voluntary gift. He has never upon any 
consideration advanced the King's price for any private ends. 
His fee in the exchequer is ^36 105-. and his allowance upon 
the ordinary of the office of ordnance 56 making a total of 
^"92 IQS. per annum of which he is at this time i^ year in 
arrear. Hopes the Lords will conceive this to be only a com- 
petent allowance for his daily pains and attendance in these 
times. There was formerly paid to his predecessor by the 
gunpowder maker 200 per annum and since his coming into 
the office he has received of Mr. Evelyn ^50 per annum, but 
this has been discontinued by Mr. Cordewell. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. ccccxli, No. n.) 

1639-40, 2nd January. Office of Ordnance. Answer of Edward 



2 9 o BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

" 

Sherburne, clerk of the Ordnance. The fees attaching to his 
office are, out of the exchequer ^36 IQS. and out of the ordinary 
upon the quarter books ^68 55. making a total of ^104 155. per 
annum, of which he is at this time i^ year in arrear. There 
was formerly paid by Mr. Evelyn .40 per annum which has 
been discontinued since the present gunpowder maker (Mr. 
Cordewell) has been employed. Does not doubt, but that the 
Lords, taking into consideration the continued and extraordinary 
pains and attendance which His Majesty's service has required 
for these four last years both by sea and land, and the dearness 
of provisions, house, rent, etc. when in former times i2d. would 
go further than icw. now, will vouchsafe their mediation. 
Travelling charges 2$s. per diem when employed, besides 
IQS. per diem for his clerk. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccccxli, 
No. 12.) 

1639-40. Answer of Richard Marsh, keeper of the stores in the office 
of ordnance. His fees out of the exchequer are ^54 1 5.?. and out 
of the ordinary 60, making a total of ^114 i^s. per annum. 
The fees of the keeper of small guns formerly held by his pre- 
decessors was ^"65 55-. but from which he is excluded. There 
was formerly paid by Mr. Evelyn ^"40 per annum, which has 
been discontinued by the present gunpowder maker. Submits 
to the Lords consideration whether his standing fee, which was 
settled in the time of Henry VIII, when i2d. went further than 
IQS. now, be a competency for his daily attendance in his office. 
(Travelling charges a^ Edward Sherburne's, No. 12.) (S. P. 
Dom. Charles I, vol. ccccxli, No. 13.) 

1639-40. Samuel Cordewell, the King's gunpowder maker to the 
Council. It is humbly offered for your consideration, i. That 
the home-made saltpetre falls short about 80 lasts to make 
240 lasts yearly. Therefore if you think fit, now that the East 
India Co. are suitors for some privileges, they may be covenanted 
with to bring over a certain quantity of saltpetre yearly, at the 



CHRONOLOGY 291 

rate they have formerly sold it for to the King. (Margin. It 
is held fit that when the Charter shall be passed there be a 
clause to enjoin the East India Co. accordingly.) 2. That 
Bristol cannot but vend much powder in respect that it is the 
greatest town for shipping except London. So that if Bristol 
and other seaport towns had powder sent them to sell, your 
Lordships might have the money and accompt returned by those 
who return the formers (of the customs) money and from these 
places the towns and country thereabouts might be supplied. 
(Margin. That this be ordered as was directed for the 
County of Southampton and that all powder makers be sup- 
pressed.) 3. For the quiet settling of a work of such advantage, 
as this is like to be to His Majesty, and for avoiding of dispute 
when the leases now in being shall expire, his Majesty may 
be pleased to purchase such lands and waters as are in the 
occupation of the mills, and whereof the work will always have 
need. (Margin. The Surveyor General is to view these some 
time this vacation and to certify what he thinks they may be 
worth, and thereupon Mr. Cordewell is to attend the Attorney 
General about buying in the same.) (S. P. Dom. Charles I, 
vol. ccccxliv, No. 22.) 

1639-40. Samuel Cordewell, the King's Gunpowder maker to the 
Council. That by an order of Council of 22nd May 1639, 
petitioner was commanded to make fine corn powder for pistols 
which he has ever since done, but prays allowance towards his 
charges. (In margin by Nicholas. This costs him ^40 per 
annum.) That they would make him some allowance for his 
loss sustained by fire, whereby he lost his stove and above 
2,000 cwt. of powder. (Margin. This loss was ^300 to the 
powder maker.) That he received ^2000 by way of imprest, 
as Mr. Evelyn likewise did for erecting the works which he has 
effectually done. Prays the Lords to be a means to his Majesty 
to pardon petitioner the repayment thereof, who in lieu of the 



292 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

same will disclaim all his interest in the mill-houses, work- 
houses and all other buildings by him now used for the making 
of gunpowder, and will leave the same in serviceable repair at 
the expiration of his contract. (Margin. The Surveyor 
General is to view these works and to certify what he conceives 
they have cost, whereupon the Lords' referees will take further 
order.) (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccccxliv, No. 23.) 
1640, 8th June. Extract from a newsletter from Edmund Rossing- 
ham to Lord Conway. 

A Discovery has been made of a great quantity of gun- 
powder and other ammunition stored in some place close by the 
place where a sessions was to have been held in Southwarke, 
for trying some that were apprehended in the late tumults at 
Lambeth and Southwark. 

The house was searched and some quantity of gunpowder 
and arms found ; but it appears the gunpowder was secretly 
made here to sell abroad to make profit of, since powder bears 
so great a price, now that his Majesty is the only merchant of 
powder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxi, No. 44.) 
1640, 28th July. Report to the King by the Commissioners for 
Saltpetre and Gunpowder on the want of sale for gunpowder. 
We conceive it necessary: (i) that a proclamation be prepared 
to reduce the price of gunpowder from ^7 los. to 6 per 
barrel, and that liberty be given to retailers to sell it for \6d. a 
Ib. or 6 13$. ^d. a barrel, being sufficient gain; and that it be 
left free to every man that will buy to resort to Sir John 
Heydon, and, on payment of your Majesty's price, to have such 
gunpowder as he shall desire, either for sale or his own 
occasions; and that in such case instruction be given to Sir 
John Heydon what gunpowder shall always remain in store, 

(2) That speedy course be taken for the restraint of the 
exportation of foreign powder by way of composition for 
half custom with strangers at Dover, and that the Lord 



CHRONOLOGY 293 

Treasurer and Lord Cottington be desired to speak with the 
Farmers how the same may be best effected. 

(3) That Parker, a gunpowder maker near Bristol, who 
has obtained a royal licence for making powder, be forthwith 
suppressed, and also all that make powder by stealth, or mend 
decayed powders. 

(4) That the Earl of Newport's commission for the sale of 
powder within the Kingdom, which he has not made any 
benefit of, and which it is thought has been a great impediment 
to the sale of powder, be recalled. 

(5) And whereas by proclamation those who seize any 
powder imported or made by stealth are to have the moiety for 
their discovery, but because the same is carried into the maga- 
zine they complain they can get no recompense, and so are 
discouraged from doing their endeavours therein ; we conceive 
it fit that, on seizure of any gunpowder hereafter the officers of 
the Ordnance upon trial shall value the powder, and that Sir 
John Heydon shall pay to the discoverer the value of the 
moiety thereof, as soon as the same shall be legally confiscated ; 
and that the gunpowder maker shall refine so much of such 
powder as shall not be found to be of the height it ought. 

(6) Whereas Mr. Cordwell has ,4,000 owing him by you 
for powder, by means whereof he is not able to pay the salt- 
petre men, and whereas Mr. Fletcher, a merchant, has furnished 
you with a good quantity of saltpetre (to the value of about 
1,150) for which he is unpaid, so that, from the want of 
these sums, the gunpowder works are in danger presently to 
stop; we conceive it very necessary that the proclamation 
for abating the price of powder be with all speed set forth 
to raise money to discharge these debts, and to pay the gun- 
powder maker for the future. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxi, 
No. 35.) 

1640, 9th October. The Deputy-lieutenants of Devon to the con- 



294 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

stables of the several hundreds, giving directions for the pre- 
paration of beacons, etc. It is ordered that you warn the chief 
officers of the magazines in your hundred for the keeping of 
powder, match, and lead for the forces of this country, that they 
forthwith fully replenish their proportions of munition. You 
are likewise to give them to understand that His Majesty's 
store at the Tower of London is now open, where they may be 
furnished with powder at \2d. the pound. You are to be 
careful, according to our former order, to cause your petty 
constables to have ready 7 Ib. of powder for every soldier, 
which they may have from the magazines with match and bullets 
proportionable. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxix, No. 73.) 

1640, 8th December. Certificate by the officers of the Ordnance of 
the gunpowder delivered into His Majesty's stores by Mr. 
Cordwell, His Majesty's gunpowder maker, from i Nov. 1636 
to 8 Dec. 1640, viz. : 
i Nov. 1636 Nov. 1637 240 lasts. 
Nov. 1637 . Nov. 1638 200 lasts (or 40 less than the amount 

contracted for per annum.) 
Nov. 1638 . Nov. 1639 240 lasts. 

Nov. 1639 . Nov. 1640 214 lasts (viz., 16 less than the con- 
tracted amount, which is still 
deficit this year.) 
(S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxi, No. 35.) 

1640, 1 4th December. Certificate of the commissioners for gunpowder 
that they accept the proportion of gunpowder delivered by 
Mr. Cordewell, his Majesty's gunpowder maker, for the year 
Nov. 1639 to Nov. 1640, the 4th year of his contract, though 
under the proportion required by his contract; Mr. Poole having 
certified that the saltpetre delivered to Mr. Cordewell was not 
sufficient to enable him to make the 240 lasts of gunpowder as 
required by his contract. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccxcii, 

P- 1 2 30 



CHRONOLOGY 295 

1641, 3ist March. Petition of Samuel Cordewell, His Majesty's 
gunpowder maker, to the King. 

Petitioner about 4 years since was contracted with by the 
Commissioners for Saltpetre and Gunpowder, for converting 
your Majesty's saltpetre into gunpowder, and delivering the 
powder into your store in the Tower. Now, by reason of a 
petition to the House of Commons that every man that will 
might make gunpowder, petitioner dares not make his pro- 
visions, as about this time of year he useth to do; for if he 
should make them, and the manufacture of gunpowder continue 
not in your Majesty's hands, he will be ruined by reason of the 
great stock he already has and must further provide and if he 
make not his provisions, he then renders himself unable to 
perform the contract, and greatly fears punishment. So that, in 
his extremity, and in a business so much concerning your 
Majesty as the having a store of gunpowder, which the Parlia- 
ment in the year '23 or '24 by their remonstrance thought fit to 
be 300 lasts in the Tower, petitioner beseeches you to refer 
consideration hereof to the Council. (So referred by the King's 
order.) (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxxviii, No. 81.) 

1641, 2;th July. Abstract of Bill for the free bringing in of gun- 
powder and saltpetre from foreign parts, and for the free making 
of gunpowder in this realm. (16 Charles I, cap. 21.) (House 
of Lords' Papers. Hist. MSS. Comm., rep. 4, p. 91.) 

1641, 28th July. List of committee on the Gunpowder Bill. Compare 
Lords' Journals, iv, 332. (Idem, p. 92.) 

1641, loth August. Letter from Thomas Smith to the Earl of North- 
umberland, Lord High Admiral. The King made account to 
be gone this morning by 4 o'clock, but divers things in the 
House not being ready for his signature, they prevailed with 
him to stay this day. His Majesty, before his going, passed 
six bills. ... 4 For putting down the restraint for making 
gunpowder. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. cccclxxxiii, No. 34.) 



296 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1641, 1 8th August. List of committee appointed to consider of the 
making of gunpowder. See Lords' Journals, iv, 367. (House 
of Lords' Papers. Hist. MSS. Comm., rep. 4, p. 98.) 

1641, ist November. Account by Richard Poole, receiver of gun- 
powder and saltpetre, of all the saltpetre brought into his 
Majesty's stores and delivered to Samuel Cordewell, his 
Majesty's gunpowder maker, from i Nov. 1640 to i Nov. 1641. 
Giving the names of the saltpetre men, the quantity each 
supplied, what they ought to have supplied, and how much they 
are in arrears. Total received, 100 lasts, total arrears, 89 lasts. 
Three saltpetre men, who delivered some saltpetre on 27th Oct. 
1641, desired notice might be taken they did not deliver it to 
Mr. Cordewell as petre made by virtue of any commission or 
authority derived from his Majesty, but as a commodity sold to 
him by way of merchandize, so Mr. Cordewell hath received 
from the saltpetre men as commission petre, according to con- 
tract, within the last 12 months, only 95 lasts. (S. P. Dom. 
Charles I, vol. cccclxxxv, No. 45.) 

1641, nth November. Draft list of committee appointed to draw up 

heads for the Bill concerning gunpowder. See Lords' Journals, 

iv, 435- 

Annexed, i. Another draft list of a committee on the same 
subject. (House of Lords' Papers. Hist. MSS. Comm., rep. 4, 
p. 105.) 

1642, 22nd July. A petition from the great Inquest for the County of 

Leicester for the removing of the magazine, and the King's 
assent July 24th. (London, 1642, printed by A. N. for William 
Gay.) 

1643, 6th March. Order for Mr. Samuel Cordwell to carry saltpetre 

and other materials necessary for the making of gunpowder to 
his works near Guildford. (MSS. of the House of Lords, Hist. 
MSS. Comm., v, 75.) 
1654, 2nd March. Petition by Vincent Randall of Chilworth Surrey, 



CHRONOLOGY 297 

to the Admiralty Committee. My late father, Sir Edward 
Randall, let a lease to the East India Co. of several powder 
mills near his dwelling, at Chilworth for 21 years. After this 
Caudwell, surveyor of the mills, rented them for a year, but 
died and left them in possession of his wife; she, being unable 
to manage so great a work, sold her stock to merchants, who 
begged leave to be my yearly tenants, which I granted, and 
their time is now expired. 

I beg leave to serve the State with the same quantity of 
powder as the mills served before, on security to make it as 
good and cheap. (S. P. Dom. Interregnum, vol. Ixvii, No. 7). 

1656, 1 3th March. Col. Thomas Ogle petitions the Protector for a 
patent for making saltpetre out of saltwater. (S. P. Dom. Com- 
monwealth, cxxv, 36.) 

Grant advised. (Ibid., cxxvi. 100.) 

1660. Daniel O'Neale entered into a contract to supply the King 
with gunpowder in 1660. Stroud and Wandsford objected on 
the ground of a prior patent. Up to 1663 there are a number 
of entries relating to payments to him, etc. (Treasury Warrants, 
Early XV, pp. 330-1, 396-7.) 

1 66 1 (January). Petition of William Baber, gunpowder maker to the 
King, for payment of the balance due to him of ^"532 35-. 6d. 
granted him by the late King in recompense for powder mills 
erected by him at Oxford, to supply his Majesty with powder, 
which were taken from him; only ^40 was paid to him, though 
he lost ^3000 in the service. (S. P. Dom. Charles II, vol. xxix, 
No. 76.) 

1663, 1 7th March. Proclamation prohibiting exportation of saltpetre 
for 3 months. (Hart., loc. ci.) 

1663, 1 3th April. Dublin. Propositions of John Middleton, gent., 
with respect to manufacture of powder in Ireland and searching 
for saltpetre. (Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the Marquis of 
Ormonde, rep. 4, p. 564.) 



298 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1664, 25th October. Henry Rumbold to Sec. Bennet. Hearing of 
the death of Col. Dan. O'Neale, who had a patent for gun- 
powder for 2 1 years, he begs that he and his brother William 
may succeed in the management of it, as the profits will only be 
considerable if well managed. 

Thinks Sir Richard Ford will want the patent for himself 
and Mr. Coventry. (S. P. Dom. Charles II, vol ciii, No. 125.) 

1666, 1 5th June. Commission to John Lord Berkeley and others to 
dig for saltpetre and make it into powder. (Patent Roll, 
1 8 Charles II, pt. iv, No. 6.) 

1666, 1 6th July. Proclamation commanding all mayors, bailiffs, con- 
stables and others to aid in execution of above commission. 
(Patent Roll, 18 Charles II, pt. v, No. 3 dorso.) 

1668, 2Oth January. Whitehall. Petition of William Baber, gun- 
powder maker to the King. He furnished the late King with 
large quantities of gunpowder at Bristol, with ,1500, and 
received no payment from Sir George Strode and John 
Wansford, who employed him, and were themselves secured by 
a grant of Marybone Park and other places, but it has since 
been disposed of to two other persons. Part of ^800 is also 
still due to him from the Ordnance Office, for powder delivered 
at New College, Oxford. 

Referred to Colonel William Legg, Lieutenant of Ordnance, 
and Lawrence Squibb. (S. P. Dom. Charles II, vol. ccxxxii, 
No. 193.) 

1669, i ith August. Sign manual for a privy seal for ^9,000 to Philip 

Earl of Chesterfield, and Charles Henry Lord Wotton in full 
discharge of the annuity of ^3,000 per an. granted for 21 years 
to Katherine Countess of Chesterfield in return for the sur- 
render by her of the contract made 1664, Dec. 5, with the 
Crown by Daniel O'Neale, one of the grooms of the Bed- 
chamber, for the sole making of gunpowder, said Countess being 
the relict and executrix of said O'Neale, and she having by her 



CHRONOLOGY 299 

will dated 1666, Dec. 15, devised the said annuity to William 
Lord Arlington and Anthony Samuel in trust for her two sons, 
Philip Earl of Chesterfield and Charles Henry Lord Wotton, 
who have agreed to surrender said patent in return for said 
,9,000. (Privy Seals, 1669, August.) 

1673. " Not far from my brother's house (Wotton) upon the streams 
and ponds, since fill'd up and drain'd, stood formerly many 
Powder Mills, erected by my ancestors who were the very first 
who brought that Invention into England; before which we had 
all our Powder out of Flanders. My Grandfather transferred 
his Patent to the Late Sir John Evelyns grandfather of God- 
stone, in the same County; in whose family it continued 'till the 
late Civil Wars. That which I would remark upon this occa- 
sion, is, the breaking of a huge Beam of 15 or 16 inches Dia- 
meter, in my Brother's House (and since crampt with a Dog of 
Iron) upon the blowing up of one of those mills, without doing 
any other Mischief that I can learn; but another standing below 
towards Shire, shot a Piece of Timber thro' a cottage which took 

o 

off a poor Woman's head as she was spinning." (Mr. John 
Evelyn's letter to John Aubrey, re his " Natural History of 
Surrey," prefaced to vol. i of " The Natural History and Anti- 
quities of the County of Surrey," begun in the year 1673 by 
John Aubrey, 1719.) 

1676. Enfield. John Sadler's map of Hertfordshire shows a powder 
mill below Enfield Lock. 

1677, ist January. Sir Polycarpus Wharton takes a lease for 21 years 

of the great powder works at Chilworth and makes a contract 
with the Ordnance. After 10 years he was asked to relinquish 
this contract and enter into a new contract. (" The Hard Case 
of Sir Polycarpus Wharton Baronet." Broadside in the posses- 
sion of the Chilworth Gunpowder Company.) 

1680 (circa). John Seller's map of Middlesex shows a powder mill be- 
tween Hounslow and East Bedfont near the point at which the 



300 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

road crosses a stream. John Seller's map of Surrey shows a 
powder mill between Merton and Carshalton. 

1680, 1 8th January. German powder being in esteem for its great 
strength Sir Polycarpus was asked " to provide two able persons 
to go into Germany, there to inform themselves of the best way 
of making Strong Powder, and to receive His Highness Prince 
Rupert's instructions thereupon." This was, however, not done. 
Sir Polycarpus could " instate it here," and upon trial it far 
exceeded the German powder in strength and could be afforded 
much cheaper." He thereupon "By H. M.'s encouragement, 
erected mills and works near Windsor (much differing from the 
common sort) sufficient to make 40 barrels of that powder 
weekly." (Wharton, loc. cit.} 

1687, 1 7th December. Sir Henry Sheere, Surveyor General, and 
Thomas Gardiner, Storekeeper, appointed by Lord Dartmouth, 
Master General of the Ordnance, to take a survey of all powder 
works in the Kingdom. (Wharton, loc. cit.} 

1687, 22nd December. Sir Polycarpus Wharton was to make a pro- 
portion of the gunpowder production of the whole kingdom, which 
according to his calculation should have been 5 1 ,685 barrels out of 
98,920 whilst he only was allotted 32,852. He actually supplied 
from Chilworth 328 barrels weekly throughout the year more 
than the other works together could make. (Wharton, loc. cit.} 

1689, 22nd July. Proclamation prohibiting exportation of saltpetre. 
(Hart., loc. cit.} 

1689, 2ist December. Draft of a bill to restrain the exportation of 
gunpowder, saltpetre, lead, brimstone, arms or any ammunition 
whatsoever. (House of Lords' Papers. Hist. MSS. Comm., 
rep. 12, App., pt. vi, p. 408.) 

1692, 4th February. Draft of a bill prohibiting the keeping of gun- 
powder within a certain distance from the Tower of London 
and the office for victualling the Navy. (House of Lords' 
Papers. Hist. MSS. Comm., rep. 14, App., pt. vi, p. 60.) 



CHRONOLOGY 301 

1692, 2gth October. Company formed under the name of " The Gov- 
ernor & Company for making and refining of saltpetre within 
the Kingdoms of England and Ireland and the Dominions 
thereunto belonging." They were to deliver 200 tons best 
white saltpetre in the first year and afterwards in every year as 
required, not exceeding 1,000 tons yearly at jo per ton or the 
market price, and to pay yearly ,1,000 to the Treasurer of the 
Navy for the relief of seamen. (Hart., loc. cit.) 

1695, 2n d December, O.S. Queen in Cadiz Bay. Sir G. Rooke to 
Shrewsbury. ... At my coming from Portsmouth there was, 
by my lord Romney's direction to the officers of the Ordnance, 
210 barrels of powder shipped for a present for the Dey and 
Government of Algier; and though I have no other order for 
its disposal, yet, having seen several advices from the Consul 
there, that a present of that kind is very earnestly expected 
by the new Dey from his Majesty, I shall presume to send it 
by Capt. Clarke in the Humber> who commands the ships going 
upon that service. . . . (Hist. MSS. Comm. MSS. of the 
Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry at Montagu House, 
Whitehall, vol. ii, pt. i, p. 269.) 

1695, i6th-26th December. Queen at Cadiz. Sir G. Rooke to Shrews- 
bury. Sends copies of what he wrote to the Government and 
(the) Consul of Algiers. It was what was earnestly expected, 
and what the French "some time since expressed to them." 

Enclosures : 

1. Copy of a letter from Rooke "to the most illustrious 
the Bashaw, the Dey, and Dewan of the ancient, powerful, and 
famous City and Kingdom of Algiers.' Compliments. Sends 
them 210 barrels of powder as a present from his Majesty. 

2. Copy of a letter from Rooke to Mr. Robert Cole, Consul 
at Algiers, on the same subject. . . . (Hist. MSS. Comm. 
MSS. of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry at Montagu 
House, Whitehall, vol. ii, pt. i, p. 278.) 



302 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1698, 24th June. Sir Polycarpus Wharlon's lease expired and was 
not renewed. He got into debt and was imprisoned. (Whar- 
ton, loc. cit.} 



LIST OF GUNPOWDER MAKERS UP TO 1800 

1457 John Judd in the Tower of London. 

1512 Th. Hart in Porchester Castle. 

1514 (? The King) in Bishopsgate Without in London. 

1515 Hans Wolf, a foreigner, one of the King's gunpowder makers 

in the Tower. 

1531 Thomas a Lee, one of the King's gunners, makes gunpowder. 

1535 Thomas a Lee in Rotherhithe (see 1563, 23rd June, in chron- 
ology). 

1540 Charles Wolman (also mentioned in 1552). 

1541 Mill in Edinburgh Castle worked by "some workmen." 
1555 Henry Reve on the " Crenge " in Rotherhithe. 

1561 (circa] George Evelyn at Long Ditton. 

(? Francis a Lee) at Leigh Place, near Godstone. 
(? At Faversham.) 
John Tomworth at Waltham. 

Note. Francis a Lee, Thomas a Lee's son, is variously men- 
tioned later on as Lea, Lee, and Leigh. 

1562 Bryan Hogge (his successor in 1589 was George Hogge) and 

Robert Thomas had, together with Francis a Lee, erected 

5 mills. 

1576 John Bovyat of London (see also 1581 and 1595). 
1580 Sebastian Orlandini and John Smithe have a mill at Ratcliffe. 

1588 George Evelyn (of Wotton, Surrey), Richard Hills (? Hill), and 

John Evelyn. 

1589 George Constable, licensed for York, Nottingham, etc. 

Hill, Constable, and John Grange enter into partnership, and 
put George Hogge on an annuity. 



LIST OF GUNPOWDER MAKERS UP TO 1800 303 

J 599 Jhn Evelyn, Richard Hardinge, Robert Evelyn, John 
Wrenham, and Symeon Turner are in partnership. 

1607 Earl of Worcester; he relinquishes his patent in 1620. 

1615 Christopher Newkirk (a Polish surgeon) knows how to make 
" still " powder. 

1617 Richard Fisher of the Inner Temple, deputy of the Earl of 
Worcester. 

1620 Manufacture taken over by the King, but John Evelyn ap- 
pointed the sole maker. 
John Baber (see also 1631). 

1623 John Reynolds, master gunner of England and proof master 

for gunpowder. 

1624 John Evelyn, the younger, Godstone, Surrey. 

1625 East India Company outside Windsor Forest. 
John Corseley, powder-maker to the City of Bristol. 
Former powder makers in Bedford mentioned. 

1626 East India Company licensed in Surrey, Kent and Sussex. 
(? Thomas) Russell. 

1627 Michael Waring in (?). 

Bristol, Dorsetshire, and Battle powder makers to be sup- 
pressed. 

1628 Robert King at Stockwell, near Chester. 

1629 John Giffard in Devonshire, Thomas Guy made it without 

licence. 

1631 Collins mentioned as the "workman" of the East India Com- 
pany. 
John Coslett and William Baber of Bristol. 

1634 Sir John Heydon offers to make gunpowder. 

Sir Philiberto Vernatti and John Battalion in Yardley, co. 

Herts. 
Walter Parker, Stockwood, Dorset (since 1588 ?). 

1635 Edward Collins, Chilworth. 

Powder factories mentioned in Taunton. 



304 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1635 Sir Arthur Mainwaring and Andrew Pitcairn have 3 mills. 

(Place not stated.) 

1636 Samuel Cordwell and George Collins, gunpowder makers of 

the King. 
Robert Davies makes gunpowder in Thames Street, London; 

made it formerly in Whitechapel, where "he had his house 

blown up." 

1640 Parker, near Bristol. 
1643 Samuel Cordwell, works near Guildford. 
1654 Sir Edward Randall succeeds Cordwell. 

1660 General Daniel O'Neale (in Wotton ?). 

1 66 1 William Baber, Oxford. 
1663 John Middleton, in Dublin. 

1666 John Lord Berkeley and others. (Place not stated.) 

1677 Sir Polycarpus Wharton at Chilworth. 

1700 (about) Smith in Hounslow, successors were Hill, Isaac Butts, 

and Harvey and Grueber. 

1719 Gruebarr of Ospringe, at Devington, near Faversham (in 1820 

Harvey and Gruebarr at Hounslow dissolved partnership). 

1728 Thomas Brock, fireworks maker. 

1732 Pike and Edsall, Dartford. 

1735 John Walton at Waltham. 

1 75 (?) at Hastings. 

1751 (?) at Maiden, Surrey. 

1760 Faversham Works sold to Government. 

1770 (?) at Brede, Sussex. 

Bouchier Walton at Waltham. 

1772 (?) at Battle, Crowhurst, Seddlescomb in Sussex. 

1778 Dartford sold to Frederick Pigou and Miles Peter Andrews. 

1780 (about) Merricks and Christie, Gorebridge, near Roslin. 

1787 Government bought Waltham from John Walton. 

1790 John Merricks, Roslin. 

1794 Royal factory erected at Ballincollig in Ireland. 



DESCRIPTIVE PART 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 

THE ROYAL LABORATORY, WOOLWICH 
BY COL. SIR HILARO W. W. BARLOW, BART., R.A. 

THE term " Laboratory " as applied to the Royal Laboratory at 
Woolwich is calculated to mislead, for this establishment is only 
incidentally connected with chemistry. It is the Government establish- 
ment in which, with a few exceptions, every article fired from a gun or 
rifle, or which is used in firing a gun or rifle, is made. The Royal 
Laboratory, though it handles enormous quantities of explosives in the 
course of a year, does not actually make the explosives, which are 
supplied by the Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey, or by 
contract. 

The Laboratory also provides, or can provide, all stores in con- 
nection with torpedoes and mines, whether for naval or land warfare. 
A Chemical Laboratory has, of course, formed part of the Royal 
Laboratory for many years as of any other large modern manufactur- 
ing establishment. 

It is but right to add that the Royal Laboratory makes also one 
store by which many thousands of lives have been saved, and that is 
the Life-Saving Rocket whereby a line is thrown to vessels stranded 
at distances up to about 200 yards from the shore. By means of this 
line stout ropes are ultimately made fast to the ship on which life-saving 
apparatus travels backwards and forwards. Some 1,700 life-saving 
rockets are made annually in the Royal Laboratory. 

37 



308 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

For some of the earlier part of the ancient history which fol- 
lows I am indebted to Mr. Vincent's admirable " Records of Wool- 
wich." 

The date of the actual commencement of the Royal Laboratory 
(R.L. as it will be usually termed in the notice which follows) has not 
as yet been definitely fixed. 

The earliest reference bearing on the matter which I have seen is 
contained in a King's Warrant to the Board of Ordnance dated 2nd 
December, 1670, which speaks of "the great encrease of our Navy," 
and, as a consequence, of " The employment of more storekeepers, 
clerks, labourers," etc., at " Ye Tower Place neare Woolwich," I think, 
for the reason given a little later', that a laboratory must have formed 
a part of this establishment. That a " Royal Laboratory " existed 
somewhere on the nth August, 1688, is quite evident from the King's 
Warrant to the Board of Ordnance of that date appointing Sir Martin 
Beckman, Knt., " Comptroller of our said Fireworks as well as for war 
as Triumph, Firemasters, Fireworkers, Bombardiers, Petardiers, and 
all others that now are or hereafter shall be employed in our said 
laboratories." The Warrant speaks of the Firemasters, etc., being occu- 
pied in our " Royall Laboratory." Unfortunately, it does not say 
where this Royal Laboratory was situated; and, although I think that 
there is little doubt that it was at Woolwich, it must be remembered 
that a laboratory undoubtedly existed at Greenwich Palace, close to the 
old Tilt Yard, which was taken down in 1695 and re-erected at Wool- 
wich, and no doubt became the " Greenwich Barne " shown in General 
Borgard's map of 1701 as part of the Royal Laboratory. 

The first quite definite mention of it is in a Treasury paper dated 
1694, mentioning an estimate for "building a Laboratory in the 
Warren at Tower Place at Woolwich." The Royal Arsenal, it may be 
remarked, was called " The Warren " for years, and was only officially 
named the Royal Arsenal in 1805. 

I do not think that this could have been the first laboratory at 
Woolwich, as it is clear from a deed by which the Lieut-General of 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 309 

the Ordnance was given a residence in Tower Place in 1683 that proof 
of " great " guns had been going on at Woolwich prior to that date 
(formerly gun proof was carried out at Moorfields, but it was trans- 
ferred to Woolwich between 1665 and 1680), and it is natural to 
suppose that there was a laboratory close at hand in which the charges 
for the guns were prepared. 

While, as already stated, a laboratory certainly existed at Green- 
wich, it appears somewhat unlikely that the cartridges required for 
the proof of guns were made up and brought from Greenwich, which 
is some three miles from Woolwich whether by land or water. It 
may be added here that there is quite reliable evidence of ordnance 
stores existing on part of the site of the Woolwich Arsenal and 
R. L. from 1588. No doubt the Dockyard, which has existed at least 
since 1500 (closed in 1869), and the Rope Walk or Yard, which was 
built in 1572 (taken down in 1835) influenced the choice of the 
site. 

In 1694, however, we come into historical times, and we have 
maps of the Royal Arsenal dated 1700, 1717, 1748, and 1810. From 
these, and from the information of living witnesses, it would seem that 
the Royal Laboratory altered very little during the first hundred 
and fifty years of its existence. As far as I have been able to 
ascertain only one large building (" The Sea Storehouse ") was added 
to it; and it is doubtful, having regard to its name, whether this 
building, though it indubitably became R. L. property at latest some 
sixty years ago, was originally built for the R. L. The same applies 
to " The Tower House," which was the first home of the Royal 
Military Academy at the birth of the latter in 1741, and remained part 
of it until 1806, when it probably became part of the R. L. 

But the Royal Laboratory did some fine work in the great wars 
at the close of the eighteenth and commencement of the nineteenth 
century, for it is stated by Sir W. Congreve in 1816 that it employed 
<l upwards of 2,000 people " during a portion of that period, which 
establishment was reduced, in the wholesale reductions after the peace 



310 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

of 1815, to about 126 by 1835. A table of the numbers of workpeople 
employed at various times is given below. 

The original Laboratory consisted of about nine large buildings, 
of which six were grouped three on each side of " the Square," about 
100 yards by 70 yards in area, which appears to have been laid out as 
a garden, and to have had a fountain in the centre a charming con- 
dition which one looks back to with some envy. The garden lies now 
beneath the floor of the present main factory ; and there are very few 
traces that the Warren was once what its name implies; and, judging 
from old engravings, also a pretty place. In 1810 the nine buildings 
had increased to about eleven, of which one (the Sea Storehouse 
already mentioned) was very large, and had altered scarcely at all by 
1851. Shortly after 1854 (the Crimean War) the R. L., in common 
with other departments, much more than doubled its size. The really 
magnificent shell foundry and factory, and several fine ranges of Danger 
Buildings date from the commencement of this period, and as the years 
went on the department has steadily grown. Just after the* close of the 
South African War (1901) it was decided to move those of the R. L. 
Danger Buildings which lay nearest to the other manufacturing 
departments of the Arsenal to a greater distance. This was gradually 
done and the present Danger Building establishment completed in 1908. 

It is unfortunate that the records existing in the Royal Laboratory 
only date back to 1760, and that the most complete are the letter books 
of the Government Gunpowder Factory at Faversham, which, like that 
at Waltham Abbey up to 1855, was once under the Royal Laboratory. 
Faversham was leased to a private firm by the Government in 1832 
and was sold, I believe, some twenty-one years later. 

Moreover, the records, such as they are, are very incomplete ; and 
it is to the printed reports of the commissions on Army expenditure of 
1828 and 1849 that one must often look for important and authentic 
information. 

It is not possible, for instance, to give a table of the establish- 
ments at various selected interesting periods of history prior to 1813, 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 311 

nor the output during the great French wars ; but figures have to be 
accepted as they may occur in the records, and the more interesting of 
these are given in Table I below. 

As will be seen from the detailed Table II below, the Royal 
Laboratory is a great manufacturing concern and deals with a very large 
number of different stores; but, apart altogether from the fluctuations 
in numbers due to peace and war, it would be still larger had it not been 
deemed advisable to transfer from it the Government Torpedo Factory 
in 1890, and the manufacture of wood (usually also metal lined) 
packages for explosives in 1893. It may be incidentally remarked that 
the Laboratories at Portsmouth and Plymouth were under the superin- 
tendence of the R. L. up to 1870. At the present moment the Royal 
Laboratory has in its possession the approved designs of about 3,000 
articles which it must be prepared to manufacture at short notice; 
moreover, the complexity of manufacture of war stores, and the severity 
of the tests to which they are subjected have grown out of all know- 
ledge in comparison with those of even recent times. Unfortunately, 
but unavoidably, the cost has correspondingly increased. 

As showing the contrast between the cost of the war stores of 
to-day and of those of sixty years ago, the Commission on Army and 
Ordnance Expenditure of 1849 appear almost shocked at the fact that 
the filled, finished and packed shell for the then newly introduced 
8-inch (smooth bore) gun cost us. $\d. as compared with the projectile 
previously used which cost 4^. \d. What would have been their feelings 
had they had to accept the cost of a modern shell for the 7. 5-inch 
which is about 9 empty? Taking the comparison, however, as it 
should be taken, i.e., between the 8-inch as the heaviest projectile of 
its period and the 1 2-inch of to-day, the relative costs would be 
i is. $\d., and about ^29 for the 1 2-inch shell filled complete. It is 
almost superfluous to say that the difference in cost is due to the fact 
that the modern 1 2-inch shell is called on to perforate a hardened steel 
plate, against which the 8-inch shell of 1849 would have an offensive 
efficiency not much exceeding that of a cricket ball. 



312 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

The total number of hands employed 3ist January, 1909, was 
4,800. Some 138 women, widows of R.L. employes, were also given 
a certain amount of work on cartridge bags to be done at their homes. 



TABLE I 

BRANCHES OF THE ROYAL LABORATORY 

West Laboratory 

Iron and Steel Foundries. 
Projectile manufacture. 
Gauge and Machine making. 
Iron Plate Workers and Smithery. 
Metal Cases to hold heavy gun cartridges. 
Manufacture of Fuses. 

Engines and Boilers, and erection and maintenance of machinery, 
shafting, gearing, etc. 
Leather work. 

Chemical and Metallurgical Branch. 
Drawing Office. 
Printing Establishment. 

East Laboratory 

Manufacture of Brass strip for quick-firing gun cartridge cases 
and small-arm cartridge cases, and Cupro Nickel strip for bulle'ts, 
etc. 

Brass Foundry. 

Quick- Firing Cartridge Case manufacture. 

Small-Arm Cartridge Case manufacture. 

Bullet manufacture. 

Manufacture of Electric and Percussion Tubes, Detonators, etc. 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 313 

Tinmen's Shop. 

Wood Department. 

Painters. 

Repair, etc., of Quick-Firing Cartridge Cases after firing. 

Founders' Ash- Washing Plant. 

Danger Buildings 

Filling and finishing Small-Arm Cartridges. 
Filling and finishing Quick-Firing Cartridges. 
Filling and finishing Shells and a limited number of Gunpowder 
Cartridges. 

Filling and finishing High Explosive Shell. 

Filling and finishing Caps, Detonators, and Percussion tubes. 

Filling and finishing Fuses and Electric Tubes. 

Filling and finishing Mines and Torpedoes (wet guncotton). 

Filling and finishing Smokeless Powder Cartridges for heavy guns. 

Manufacture of Cartridge Bags, etc. 

Manufacture of Paper fittings. 

Mechanics' Shop (Danger Buildings). 

Velocity Range. 

Miscellaneous 
Rate Fixers. 
Estimate Branch. 
Order and Issue Branch. 
Correspondence and other clerical work. 



3H BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



TABLE II 

NUMBERS EMPLOYED IN THE ROYAL LABORATORY AT VARIOUS 

PERIODS 

Year. No. 

1757 . .169 

1762 . . . 234 

1776 . . . 140 

1786 90 

1792 ..... 98 

1793 . 482 

1798 895 

1803 . 984 

1805 . . 1,133 

1813 . I.45 1 

1817 461 

1825 272 

1829 ..... 139 

1835 . 126 

1849 - 455 

No figures available between 1849 and 1870. 

1870 . . 2,674 

1875 . 2,791 

1880 2,996 

1885 . . . 5> 6 94 

1890 . . 6,354 

1895 . . . 6,155 

30th Sept., 1899 . 7.7 01 

3ist Deer., 1899 8,635 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 315 

Year. No. 

3Oth June, 1900 . . . . . 10,634 

3 1 st Deer., 1900 ..... 11,621 

3ist Deer., 1901 ..... 10,111 

3ist Deer., 1902 ..... 7,825 

3ist Deer., 1906 . . . . .5,720 

3tst Jan., 1909 ..... 4,800 



TABLE III 

LIST OF COMPTROLLERS, DIRECTORS, AND SUPERINTENDENTS ROYAL 

LABORATORY 

Comptrollers 

1688. Sir Martin Beckman, Kt. 

1716. Office abolished and re-introduced by King's Warrant 

in 1746. 
1748. Sir Charles Frederick, K.B. 

1782. Ralph Ward. 

The Hon. George Napier. 

1783. Sir Charles Frederick. 
Colonel T. Jones. 

1789. Lieut.-Gen. Sir William Congreve, Bart. 
1814. Sir William Congreve, 2nd Bart. 



Directors 

1828. Colonel Sir Augustus Frazer, K.C.B. 
1835. General Stephen G. Adye, C.B. 



316 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

1838. Major-General James P. Cockburn. 

1847. General Richard Hardinge, K.B. 

1852. General Sir William Cator, K.C.B. 

1852. Colonel John A. Wilson. 



Superintendents 

1855. Major-General Edward M. Boxer, F.R.S. 

1870. Colonel Thomas W. Milward, C.B. 

1875. Lieut.-Col. George H. J. A. Eraser. 

1880. Colonel Francis Lyon. 

1885. Colonel William R. Barlow. 

1892. Colonel Edmond Bainbridge, C.B. 

1899. Major James S. Douglas. 

1902. Colonel Sir Hilaro W. Barlow, Bart. 



THE ROYAL GUNPOWDER FACTORY, WALTHAM 

ABBEY 

BY COL. SIR FREDERIC L. NATHAN, R.A. 

" I ^HE earliest known record relating to the Waltham Abbey 
-L Powder-mill bears date 2nd March, 1560-1. It is of interest as 
showing that, even thus early, the factory was of considerable extent, 
and was engaged in producing gunpowder for the English Govern- 
ment. The substance of this record, given below, is extracted from 
the Essex volume No. 2 of " The Victoria History of the Counties of 
England." The historical details of the Waltham Abbey Gunpowder 
Factory which follow, are taken from the same source. On the date 
mentioned above, viz., 2nd March, 1561, one Marco Antonio Erizzo, 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 317 

an Italian, writes 1 to John Thomworth (or Tamworth) at Waltham 
Abbey in reference to a tender he had made 2 to supply the Govern- 
ment with material for making powder. Thomworth was the executor 
of the widow of Sir Anthony Denny (who had died in 1549) and was 
probably the owner or manager of the powder-mill. The tender in 
question was referred for consideration to William Bromfield, Master 
of the Ordnance, who advised 3 that Neapolitan saltpetre at $ los. per 
cwt. was los. per cwt. too dear, and that the offer of 2,000 cwt. of 
Italian brimstone should be " respyted," as there were "in store at 
this present 120,000 c. weight, whiche wyll make foure hundrythe 
lasts of corne powder and wyll not be wrought yet into powder this 
fowre yeres." Ultimately, large quantities of powder-making materials 
were purchased from Erizzo, to the value of ^6,000, including Italian 
brimstone at 18^. per cwt. and Neapolitan saltpetre at $ $s. per cwt.; 
all to be delivered in England. 4 From that date, at any rate (and, 
doubtless, even earlier), the manufacture of gunpowder on a large scale 
has been carried on continuously at Waltham Abbey. 

In his notice of the manufactures of Essex, Fuller, who became 
perpetual curate of Waltham Abbey about 1648, says that "More 
[gunpowder] is made by mills of late erected on the River Ley, betwixt 
Waltham and London, than in all England besides. ... It is ques- 
tionable whether the making of gunpowder be more profitable or more 
dangerous; the mills in my parish having been five times blown up 
within seven years, but (blessed be God!) without the loss of any one 
man's life." 5 

The first deaths from an explosion at the powder-mills are 
recorded in the register of burials of the parish of Waltham Holy 
Cross, under date October, 1665: " Tho. Gutridg, killed with a 
powder mill, ye 4 day: Edward Simons, carpenter, so killed, ye 
5 day." 

1 S. P. Foreign, Elizabeth, xxiv, i. 2 S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, xvi, 33-4. 

3 S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, xvi, 35. 4 S. P. Dom. Elizabeth, xvi, 36-7. 

3 "Worthies of England" (1662), pp. 318-19. 



3 i8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Farmer, in his " History of Waltham," gives a view of the factory 
as it was in I735. 1 From this view, it appears that there were some 
twenty buildings as named thereon. Of the factory, Farmer says : 
" Near the Town on one of these rivers [i.e., on one of the branches of 
the Lee] are curious Gunpowder Mills, which supply the nation with 
great quantities of gunpowder, being esteemed the largest and com- 
pletest works in Great Britain, and are now the property of Mr. John 
Walton, a gentleman of known honour and integrity." 

This John Walton was a relative of Izaak Walton, the angler. 

In 1770 an Essex historian wrote of the factory as "several 
curious gunpowder mills, upon a new construction, worked by water, 
(the old ones having been worked by horses). They are reckoned the 
most complete in England, and will make near one hundred barrels 
weekly for Government service, each barrel containing one hundred 
weight. They are now the property of Bouchier Walton, Esquire." 

Horse power would appear, however, to have been introduced as 
early as 1739, and was used to some extent to a considerably later 
period than 1770. 

In 1787 the factory was acquired by the Government from 
another member of the family, a later John Walton. A pillar sundial, 
which belonged to this John Walton, and has his name engraved on it, 
still stands in front of the offices of the factory. The surrounding 
lands were not finally purchased till 1795. Upon becoming Crown 
property, the factory was enlarged by the Board of Ordnance, under 
whose management it fell. Some fourteen or fifteen of the old hands 
were retained, and workmen were brought also from the King's 
Powder-Mill at Faversham, both the Faversham and Waltham Abbey 
factories being worked under the superintendence of Major (afterwards 
Sir William) Congreve, Deputy-Controller of the Royal Laboratory at 
Woolwich. Forty-six hands were employed in October, 1787, at 
which date stone runners and beds, such as are still occasionally em- 
ployed, were in use for the process of " incorporating " (i.e., mixing). 

1 Reproduced on p. 161. 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 319 

In 1791 the factory records speak of double horse-mills being in 
use; and in 1795, powder appears to have been sent regularly from 
Waltham Abbey to Purfleet, for proof. Sometimes it went overland 
in ammunition wagons, at other times by water in barges. 

Explosions seem to have occasionally occurred at this period; 
but, as a rule, they did no serious injury. In 1801, however, a horse 
" corning-house " exploded, killing nine men and four horses. In con- 
sequence of this explosion, a committee of the Royal Society visited 
the works to examine and report on the possibility of danger arising 
from electrical excitation, caused by walking or rolling barrels on the 
leather-covered floors, or by the use of silk-covered " dusting reels," in 
which the fine dust is removed from the grain powder. The com- 
mittee reported, however, that there could be no danger from such 
causes. 

The introduction into the manufacture of gunpowder of charcoal 
burnt in retorts or "cylinders " instead of in "pits," occurred about 
this time. In 1804 an d for some years afterwards, Government cylinder 
works, in connection with the Waltham Abbey factory,- were main- 
tained at Fisher Street and at Fernhurst, in Sussex. In the same year 
occurs the first mention of iron runners and beds for incorporating 
mills. The annual yield of the factory at this period was about 20,000 
barrels. 

In 1805 the Board of Ordnance purchased the Cheshunt corn- 
mill, and in 1809 the Waltham Abbey corn-mill, for the sake of their 
water-power rights. 

In 1811, in order to show that the manufacture of gunpowder 
could be carried on more economically at the Royal Gunpowder 
Factories at Waltham Abbey and Faversham than by private mer- 
chants, General (afterwards Sir William) Congreve addressed a state- 
ment on the subject, dated 2Oth April, 1811, to the Master-General of 
the Ordnance. This statement showed that the profit, between ist 
January, 1789, and 3ist August, 1810, on 407,408 barrels of gunpowder 
of 100 Ib. each, made at Waltham Abbey and Faversham, amounted to 



320 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



,288,357 6s. o^d.\ and that the profit on "regenerating" 127,419^ 
barrels, between ist January, 1790, and 3ist August, 1810, was ,53,091 
i i.y. 3</., or a total profit of ,341,488 185. 3f<^. The same statement 
gives the whole amount expended by the Government on the original 
purchase, and on new erections, repairs, and improvements, up to 3ist 
December, 1799, as ,45,683 2s. >]\d. 

On the morning of 27th November, 1811, there was another 
serious explosion, a press-house and a corning-house being blown up 
and eight men killed. After this Sir William Congreve substituted 
Bramah hydraulic presses for the old screw-presses used previously for 
giving the requisite density to the gunpowder. On October, 1814, it 
was ordered that, for working the machinery, water-power was to be 
substituted entirely for horse-power. At this time, in all probability, 
horse-power was finally disused. In 1810, according to Winters 
{" Centenary Memorial," pp. 67 and 78), there were in use nine 
water-mills and seven horse-mills; and in 1813 (when the war was at 
its height), twenty-four water-mills and nine horse-mills. In 1816 
the old corning-frame was replaced by a new granulating machine, 
patented by Sir William Congreve, Patent No. 3937 of 1815 (3rd 
July). It was erected on that portion of the factory known as the 
Lower Island. 

During the war with France, very large quantities of gunpowder 
were produced at Waltham Abbey, the figures for the later years 
being as follows : 

Years. No. of Barrels. 

1809 ..... 20,050 

1810 ..... 20,688 

1811 . . V . . . 21,252 

1812 . . . .1. . 21,000 

1813 . . . 25,060 

1814 . . . . . 10,161 

1815 . "V ,. - ' , 15,790 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 321 

On the conclusion of peace, the output was much reduced. In 1816 it 
amounted to about 4,000 barrels only; in 1819 it had fallen to about 
1,000 barrels; and in some succeeding years, it was even less. In 
addition, however, large quantities of old powder were "regenerated" 
each year at this period. In 1822 the establishment was fixed at thirty- 
four persons. In 1813, during the war, it had exceeded 250 hands, and 
the wages paid to them had amounted to ,17,212 (see Winters, "Cen- 
tenary Memorial," pp. 75-8). 

In 1832, the Royal Factory at Faversham was sold, and shortly 
afterwards the Royal Factory at Ballincollig, in Ireland, was disposed 
of also. Waltham Abbey thus became the sole royal gunpowder factory, 
and has remained so to the present day. 

From April, 1858, to the end of March, 1859, the factory produced 
10,683 barrels of gunpowder and was capable of storing 5,000 tons of 
saltpetre and sulphur. The value of the buildings, land and water 
rights was estimated at ,230,000. 

Colonel Askwith was the first Superintendent independent of 
the Royal Laboratory. He was appointed from the i8th August, 

1855- 

In 1858, Sir W. Snow Harris, F.R.S., after an inspection of the 
factory, drew up a report for a system of lightning conductors for all 
the houses in it. They were subsequently installed. 

In 1870 the factory contained thirty-two pairs of incorporating 
mills, some driven by water and some by steam. These could incor- 
porate annually materials for about 27,580 barrels of large grain, or 
13,690 barrels of fine grain gunpowder. The number of men employed 
was about one hundred and fifty. All the processes preparatory to the 
actual manufacture of the powder were carried on in the factory, in 
order to ensure the absolute purity of the finished article. These 
processes included the refining of sulphur and saltpetre, and the burn- 
ing of charcoal in cylinders. 

For many centuries black gunpowder was the only explosive. 
Nothing else was made at the Waltham Abbey Factory until 1872, 

y 



322 BRITISH EXPLOSIVE INDUSTRY 

when the production of guncotton was commenced on a manufacturing 
scale. 

The original guncotton factory consisted mainly of old buildings, 
which had formed part of the saltpetre refinery, and abutted on the 
principal street of the town. It was capable of turning out about two 
hundred and fifty tons of guncotton per annum. In 1885 one hundred 
acres of land, known as Quinton Hill, were purchased by the Govern- 
ment, and a new guncotton factory, which started work in 1890, was 
erected there. 

The kind of gunpowder known as "brown" or "cocoa" powder, 
was introduced from Germany in 1883, and a number of new buildings 
were erected in the old part of the factory for its production, which was 
commenced in 1885. 

Smokeless powders for military purposes were first produced in 
France, in 1886. In 1890 the Explosives Committee recommended a 
smokeless powder, to which the name of " Cordite " was given, and its 
manufacture was commenced at Waltham Abbey in 1891. For its 
production a nitro-glycerine factory was put up on Quinton Hill, 
where the necessary buildings for making cordite were also erected. In 
1898 a second nitro-glycerine factory in the old portion of the factory, 
started work, and the majority of the houses formerly used for the 
manufacture of gunpowder were adapted for the manufacture of cordite 
in consequence of the larger output. The introduction of modified 
cordite entailed considerable additions to the factory, and 94^ acres 
were acquired for the erection of the necessary buildings. 

The factory at the present time covers 411^ acres, and comprises 
about 300 separate buildings. It is under the superintendence of 
Colonel Sir Frederic L. Nathan. 

Gunpowder, fine grain powder for fuses and for the priming of 
cordite cartridges, picric powder, nitric acid, nitro-glycerine,guncotton for 
torpedoes, mines, etc., as well as for cordite, and cordite, are manufac- 
factured at Waltham Abbey. In addition to the above the waste acids 
resulting from the manufacture of nitro-glycerine and guncotton are 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 323 

recovered, as is also a large proportion of the acetone used in the 
manufacture of cordite. The saltpetre and sulphur used in gunpowder 
are bought in the rough state and are refined in the factory, and the 
charcoal is made from wood mostly grown on the spot. 

The four main departments of the Royal Gunpowder Factory are: 
Gunpowder, Nitro-glycerine, Guncotton, and Cordite. There are also 
a Machinery Department and a Central Laboratory. 

Electrical power is almost universally employed, supplied from a 
central generating station in which are three 200 K.W. generators, and 
three smaller ones. The factory is electrically lighted from the same 
source. Alongside the Power House is a Main Boiler House, con- 
taining fifteen 30 feet by 8 feet 100 Ib. pressure Lancashire boilers. 
These boilers supply steam for the boiling of guncotton as well as 
for the generators. For heating purposes there are three other 
smaller boiler houses in different parts of the factory. 

All raw materials, as well as the finished explosives, are tested 
and examined in the Central Laboratory, and in the laboratories 
attached to the Nitro-glycerine and Guncotton Departments, under 
the Chemists-in-Charge, Research work of a varied nature is also 
carried out at the Central Laboratory. 

The whole of the work in connection with the manufacture of 
explosives is carried out under the strictest supervision, and every 
possible care is taken that all finished products issued from the factory 
shall be of the greatest purity, stability, and uniformity, as these are 
factors of paramount importance to the Services. Every precaution 
tending to reduce the risk of accident during manufacture is also most 
stringently enforced. 



3 2 4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



THE RESEARCH DEPARTMENT 
BY MAJOR J. H. MANSELL, R.A. 

THE Research Department, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, is, as at 
present constituted, only two years old. It combines, under 
one superintendent, two departments, which existed previously, both 
doing research work, which approached very closely along certain 
lines, and both mutually dependent on each other on other lines 

These two departments were the Proof and Experimental Branch 
of the Proof Butts and the Chemical Research Department. 

Of these the Proof and Experimental Branch is the older. As the 
name indicates, its work consisted of testing explosives, ordnance, etc., 
before issue to the Service, as well as of experimental work, connected 
generally with questions of internal ballistics. The name of this branch 
was comparatively new, and it is still familiarly known by its more 
ancient one of the Butts. 

The Proof Butts is probably co-existent with the Royal Arsenal. 
The date of the origin of the Royal Arsenal is lost in obscurity, though 
it is put by one authority at 1667, Dut Vincent 1 places it a century 
earlier. Be that as it may, the earliest plan existent of the Royal 
Arsenal is dated 1701, and in this is marked the Proof Butts, then 
called the " Proof Parapet." It is interesting to note as these plans are 
followed through the succeeding years how the site of the Butts has 
been steadily pushed farther east with the ever-growing demand for 
space for manufacturing purposes, this growth advancing from its small 
beginning at the west of the Proof Parapet. To the east of the Arsenal 
lie Plumstead Marshes, on which work of reclamation has ever been 
proceeding. The last move of a Butt was in 1898, and the present site 
is a mile from the one of 1701. At the eastern end of Plumstead 
Marshes magazines have now been built, and buildings are moving 

1 " Records of Woolwich," vol. i, p. 297 et seq. 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 325 

towards the Butts from the east. The days of pushing the Butts 
further into the Marshes are numbered, and it is for the future to say 
whether this eastern push will carry them to the mouth of the Thames, 
whither the sister establishment for conducting long range trials has 
preceded them by many years. 

In 1701 the Butt was a grass-covered mound into which the shots 
were fired. This in time was replaced by a sand-heap, the sand being 
retained in position by a framework. From this sand fired shots are 
easily dug out. With the growth in power of ordnance the sand has 
steadily increased in depth, and with the increase in armaments the 
Butts have had to be widened to enable more guns to be fired side 
by side. 

There are now two Butts the north and south. Each Butt is 
divided into four partitions known as bays, and the two Butts are 
separated by an earthen traverse to enable work to proceed simulta- 
neously at both Butts. 

In the earlier days the proof of a lot of gunpowder consisted in the 
firing of a small charge of it in a mortar and noting how far it threw the 
ball. This system had the advantage of avoiding any question as to the 
maximum pressure necessary for a given muzzle-velocity, and possibly 
spared the powder manufacturer many of the troubles of his present- 
day descendants. The gun-caster on his side tried to avoid trouble by 
keeping up the thickness of his metal. That he did not always succeed 
is evidenced by the records of occasional bursting of cannon. On 
9th March, 1770, for instance, we find at proof that " two of the cannon 
burst into pieces and were forced into different parts of the Warren " 
(the old name for the Arsenal). 

In 1740 Robins invented the ballistic pendulum, by which striking 
velocities could be measured, and attempts were also made to measure 
muzzle velocities on the same principle. Some old ballistic pendulum 
sheds were still standing in 1900, though the pendulum had long been 
removed. 

Electricity was not employed in ballistic experiments until a 



326 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

century later, Navez in Belgium being the first to devise an instrument. 
The records do not show when the well-known Le Boulenge Chrono- 
graph was first installed at the Butts, but the instruments now in use 
for measuring muzzle-velocity are still of this type, although various 
improvements for their adjustment were introduced by Captain Holden, 
R.A., about 1888. 

In 1857 the first attempt to measure the pressure developed in a 
gun was made by Rodman in the United States, though Rumford had 
carried out experiments in a closed vessel in 1792, and Robins had 
attempted to calculate the power of fired gunpowder. 

Rodman's gauge was tried in this country but was quickly super- 
seded by Captain Noble's crusher gauge, which was first tried in 1860, 
and perfected by him in the following eight years. It is this gauge 
which is still used for determining the maximum pressure developed 
in the chambers of guns. 

But we had yet to learn how gunpowder developed its maximum 
pressure and imparted the velocity at the muzzle to the ball. It was in 
1868 that the great advance came with the classic work of Captain 
Noble and F. Abel. The experiments with Noble's chronoscope and 
gauges were carried out at the Butts, and now a solution was offered 
as to the rise and fall of pressure in the gun and the velocity of the 
projectile at every point in the bore of the gun. It was thus that the 
influence of size of grain, etc., on the pressure in the gun was deter- 
mined, and the foundation laid for the scientific design of the gun so 
that its strength at various points could be proportioned to meet the 
pressures it had to withstand. 

Down to 1894 guns with Noble's crusher gauges placed at various 
points along the bore were used at the Butts, whenever new powders 
were being experimented with. The two chief propellents introduced 
into the Service during that period were prism brown powder and 
cordite. A disadvantage of this system of determining forward pressure 
is that guns have to be specially prepared by having holes bored 
through them at intervals to take the gauges. 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 327 

Since 1900 other methods have replaced Noble's system of forward 
gauges. In 1896 the experimental side of the Proof Butts was developed. 
Closed vessels of the Vieille type were procured and other apparatus 
for research of internal ballistic problems was provided. 

In 1903 M.D. cordite was introduced, and this apparatus quickly 
enabled internal ballistic problems with the new propellent to be solved; 
a solution, however, that cannot be arrived at in a laboratory, but 
requires also experiments in the gun. 

The science of artillery has made great and rapid progress in the 
past forty years, a progress greatly accelerated by the invention of smoke- 
less powder. During this period armaments have increased, as also 
have inventions worthy of investigation, if not adoption, by the Govern- 
ment. The Butts have necessarily developed also. The guns come 
down for whatever proof or experiment is required in the morning and 
go back at night, to be replaced next day. This is the great advantage 
of having the Butts near the arsenal. 

Earth traverses are now placed behind the guns and from each 
side of the firing position up to the butt, so that in the event of an 
accident, pieces may not be " forced into different parts of the " Arsenal. 
Happily, however, there has been no case of a burst gun for at least 
twenty years. 

The Chemical Research Department was formed in 1904. On the 
formation of the Explosives Committee, under the Presidency of Lord 
Rayleigh, in 1900, a few chemists were engaged to carry out research 
work, and were found a temporary habitation at the Proof Butts, and 
two years later buildings were erected south of the Butts. Though 
the Chemical Research Department is of comparatively recent origin 
the employment of chemists in research work is of much older 
date. 

About 1837 the first Arsenal chemist, Mr. Marsh, was appointed. 
He was the inventor of " percussion tubes for cannon," and we see 
thus early the connection between the chemist and the gun. 

Marsh died in 1846, and in 1854 Mr. Abel was appointed " War 



328 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Department Chemist" in the Arsenal. It is not clear if the position 
was vacant from 1846 to 1854. 

Abel at first can have had little routine work. He was certainly 
engaged mainly on research up to at least 1870, and he was engaged 
in research up to 1885, but routine work must have increased. His 
work with Captain Noble has already been referred to, a work which 
only found its ultimate expression of practical utility when the research 
was extended to the gun. 

The department of the War Office chemist was more and more 
weighted with routine work for inspection purposes with the ever- 
growing increase in war-like supplies. 

The introduction of Poudre B.N. in France led to the foundation, 
in 1888, of an Explosives Committee with which Sir F. Abel and Dr. 
Kellner, the then War Department Chemist, were closely associated. 
This committee of research ceased to exist after introducing cordite in 
1891. 

Research now began to develop at the Proof Butts, as I have 
shown, and in 1900 Lord Rayleigh's Committee was formed with 
provision of chemists unweighted by routine work. 

In order to achieve progress in artillery, research on explosives 
destined for a gun whether as propellent or high explosive must 
have its ultimate appeal to the gun. The chemist and the artillerist, 
if they are to learn each other's needs and limitations, must therefore 
be in close touch. This is the principle which crystallizes from the 
history of the past, and underlies the organization of the Research 
Department. 

The Chemical Research Department had also been engaged on 
questions involving metallurgical research. On formation of the 
Research Department, a distinct branch, called the Mechanical Research 
Branch, took over the study of these questions. 

We have now followed the developments which led to the form- 
ation of the Research Department in 1907, and which consists of three 
branches: the Proof and Experimental, the Chemical Research, and 



EXISTING GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHMENTS 329 

the Mechanical Research, under the control of one Superintendent. 
The various buildings, etc., of this department are situated together, 
and personal contact between these branches is thus secured. 

Amongst the buildings is included a factory for the manufacture of 
explosives on an experimental scale. Facilities also exist for testing 
high explosive shell, either at rest or in smaller natures when fired from 
a gun. 

Samples may be submitted for examination. These are first 
analyzed and tested by a stability test. This preliminary examination 
includes for high explosives the determination of power and sensitive- 
ness, and for propellents determination of calorimetric value and power 
in closed vessels. An apparatus for measuring the rate of detonation of 
high explosives is being installed, and an apparatus exists for the gas 
analysis of the products of explosion of propellents. 

When an explosive is followed up beyond this preliminary stage, 
it undergoes a more extended trial in climatic huts. These huts are 
kept at 1 20 Fahr. and 1 1 5 Fahr., the 1 20 huts being dry and the 115 
huts 75 per cent, saturated with moisture. The huts are of special design 
with a view to their yielding at once, and so relieving the pressure 
should a flare result. They are of course strongly traversed and well 
isolated. The explosive is also more particularly examined as to the 
special purpose for which it is intended. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 

AMMONAL EXPLOSIVES, LIMITED, LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 29, Great St. Helen's, London, E.G. 
CAPITAL: ,120,000. 
FACTORY: Gathurst, Wigan. 

Recently new arrangements have been made for the manufacture 
of this explosive at the works of the Roburite Company. 



SIR W. G. ARMSTRONG, WHITWORTH AND CO. 

r I "HE Elswick Works of Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co., 
-L Limited, were started in 1847. 

In 1854 the outbreak of the Crimean War brought Elswick, 
perhaps for the first time, into connection with the War Office. Mr. 
Armstrong, who had some experience of the class of work required, 
was asked to design some submarine mines to blow up the Russian 
ships which had been sunk in the harbour of Sebastopol. The drawing 
of this explosive machine, which was never actually used, shows a 
wrought-iron cylinder loaded with guncotton and fitted with arrange- 
ments for firing by electricity. Experiments were carried out, and 
Mr. Armstrong invited the principal Elswick employes to witness a 
trial in his field at Jesmond. It was a very pleasant function, and 
greatly enjoyed by all the guests. The mines, planted in different 
parts of the field, exploded in the most exhilarating manner, and after 

33 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 331 

tea had been served out, the party separated, delighted with the 
afternoon's entertainment. There is something refreshing in the 
remembrance of this genial little exhibition, and the informal friend- 
liness between employers and employed to which it testified. 

The Ordnance Works at Elswick were started, in the first instance, 
solely to undertake Government orders, and the Secretary of State for 
War was a party to the contract. 

Between 1859 and 1863 the orders given by the War Office to 
Elswick amounted to , 1,067,000. In the course of the next fifteen 
years they were ,54,000. But in 1864, the supply of foreign orders 
for artillery gradually grew greater, with Denmark, Turkey and Egypt 
among the customers. 

The Ordnance Works consist of 93 buildings, including 40 
large workshops, fitted with the most modern machinery, exclusively 
employed in the manufacture of war material, and equipped for the 
following work: Gun construction, naval gun mountings, land-service 
gun mountings, field-service carriages, shot and shell, cartridge cases, 
forgings, cast-iron castings, blacksmitheries, gun-sights and fittings, 
brass finishing, electric work, gun inspection, pattern making, material 
testing rooms, stores, engine and boiler houses. In the main offices 
are large and well-lit drawing offices, chemical laboratory, plan printing 
and photographic studios, etc. 

The Scotswood Works are situated on the north bank of the Tyne, 
three miles from Newcastle, and a full mile from Elswick. They 
have a frontage of half a mile, and the area occupied is about 37 acres. 

A bridge connects the yard with the North-Eastern Railway 
system, and a jetty on the river front enables water transport to be 
made. 

The Fuse Shop, having an area of 45,240 square feet, is equipped 
with automatic machines, lathes, milling tools, drilling machines, 
presses, etc. In all there are 360 machines, driven by a 250 H.P. 
gas engine. The work done in this shop comprises the making of 
fuse bodies, primers, shell plugs, bolts, nuts and screws, electrical 



332 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

fittings, motor car detail, tinsmiths' work, night-sights for guns, small 
shell, powder-cases, hydraulic motors, lubricators, etc. 

The Shell Shop, comprising an area of 37,440 square feet, is 
devoted to the manufacture of shot and shell for all sizes of guns from 
T 2-inch downwards. There are 115 machines in this shop, driven by 
a 250 H.P. gas engine. 

The Fuse Factory comprises an area of 48,800 square feet. In 
this factory the work of filling fuses, primers, etc., with explosives is 
undertaken. It is fitted with the necessary machinery for this work; 
there are 30 machines in all. 

The Forge comprises 14,400 square feet. 

The High Explosives Factory, comprising an area of 88,000 
square feet, is set apart for the filling of shell with high explosives, the 
buildings being erected on the most modern principles for this special 
purpose, and isolated from the other parts of the works with mounds 
and screens. 

The Thames Ammunition Works, founded in 1879, were acquired 
by the Company early in 1902. They cover a site of about 40 acres, 
and are situate on the spit of land between the Thames and the 
Darenth rivers, where the latter joins the main stream at Dartford 
Creek. The Thames forms the northern boundary, and, by means of a 
pier, material can be shipped directly to and from the factory into 
barges for transport to Woolwich or Hole- Haven. A narrow gauge 
line connects the pier with all buildings in the enclosure. 

On the land side, the Works may be approached by rail from Erith 
or Slades Green stations on the South-Eastern Railway through Slades 
Green Village, and thence by a private road across the marsh. 

The factory is divided into two portions by a main road, carefully 
fenced in on either side. All persons entering must pass along this 
road, and cannot reach the danger areas without passing through one 
of the " changing rooms," whence, having donned the proper clothes, 
they proceed on platforms leading to the ammunition sheds. The 
enclosures are intersected by dykes, which would serve to diminish 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 333 

the risk of a fire spreading should there be, at any time, an out- 
break. 

For the manufacture of ammunition, filling of cartridges and 
similar purposes, there are 13 buildings, separated from each other 
by the regulation distances, according to the amount of explosives 
allowed in them. These buildings are devoted to the filling of shell or 
cartridges of all descriptions, and the filling of fuses. They are steamed 
by a system of pipes which are served from two Cornish boilers, which 
also supply the steam for an engine for driving the dynamos for lighting 
the factory and supplying the power. 

There are nine buildings devoted to the manufacture and storage 
of electric detonator fuses for blasting purposes. These are supplied 
with steam from an auxiliary workshop in an isolated building outside 
the danger area. 

The factory is licensed for the storage of 83 tons of explosives in 
nine mounded magazines, of which six are built, and the remaining three 
can be put up under the licence at any time whenever required. 

A large building serves the purposes of receiving and unpacking 
material, and storing empty cases; it is also used as a workshop. 
The factory is equipped with a small forge, and dining-room for the 
operatives, together with a lodge, waiting-room and stabling at the 
entrance gates. 

There is also a platform from which small guns can be fired along 
a covered range into a stop butt. 

The Government licence in the factory covers the filling of all 
kinds of fuses and primers, shell, cartridges, and quick-firing 
ammunition. 

WILLIAM BENNETT, SONS AND CO., LIMITED 

HEAD OFFICE: Roskear, Camborne, Cornwall. 

CAPITAL: ,36,000. 

FACTORY: Roskear Fuse Works, Camborne, Cornwall. 



334 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

PERSONNEL : i Chemist. 

i Scientific Engineer. 

6 Manufacturing, Commercial, and Administrative employes. 

20 Male workers. 

206 Female workers. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Patent Safety-Fuse for Blasting. 
PRIME MATERIALS USED: Jute, Flax and Cotton Yarns, Gutta-percha, 

Glue, Tar, Pitch, and Gunpowder. 

The GOODS are manufactured for home consumption and for export. 
SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED : Blasting Fuse of all descriptions. 

This firm was founded in 1871 by the late Mr. William Bennett; 
after his decease in 1890 it was continued by the survivors of his family. 
It was converted into a limited company in June, 1907. 



BICKFORD, SMITH AND CO., LIMITED, TUCKINGMILL 

HEAD OFFICE: Tuckingmill, Cornwall. 

CAPITAL: ,200,000. 

FACTORIES: Tuckingmill, and elsewhere in Cornwall. 
St. Helens Junction, Lancashire. 
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia; with numerous foreign connections. 

PERSONNEL: The Resident Directors are Sir George J. Smith 
(Managing Director) and George E. Stanley Smith, with a 
numerous technical and commercial staff under them. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Every kind of Blasting Fuses, e.g., Bickford's 
Safety, Bickford's Instantaneous, Bickford's Colliery Fuses, 
Electric Fuses, Permitted Igniter Fuses, Metallic Fuses, etc. 

The capacity of the works has been largely increased during 
recent years, and is at present in process of further development. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: The principal materials are Gunpowder of 
several descriptions, Jute, Cotton, and other yarns, Gutta-percha 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 335 

and other hydro-carbons, used in varnishes, and other insulating 
and chemical materials. 

THE MANUFACTURES are both for home and foreign consumption. The 
exportation arrangements consist of established agencies of the 
Company in most of the important Colonies and some foreign 
countries. Bickford's Fuses are also largely purchased in this 
country by merchants exporting abroad. 

SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED OR INVENTED: The Bickford Fuse in 
practically all its varieties is the invention of William Bickford, of 
Tuckingmill, and his successors. The Company's most recent 
specialities have been the Colliery Safety-Fuse and Permitted 
Igniter Fuse, the Bickford Instantaneous Fuse, and the recent 
development of that idea in the tri-nitro-toluene fuse, patented 
by their French partner, M. Jean Harle, (No. 1820/08). 

BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: Bickford, Smith and Co., Limited, subscribe 
to and utilize general hospitals and charities in Cornwall and 
elsewhere. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED : Bickford's Fuses have obtained the First 
Awards of Merit at practically all the great Exhibitions since the 
first of 1851 in London, including those of Paris, Vienna, Phil- 
adelphia and Chicago. 



BIRMINGHAM METAL AND MUNITIONS COMPANY, 

LIMITED 

GENERAL MANAGER: John H. Barker, M.Inst.C.E., M.lnst.E.E. 
HEAD OFFICE: Adderley Park, Birmingham. 
CAPITAL: ,600,000. 

The shares of this Company are held by Nobel's Explosives 
Company, Limited, Glasgow. 
FACTORIES: Adderley Park and Streetly. 



336 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

(a) Adder Ley Park 

WORKS MANAGER: V. E. Greenwood, A.M.I.M.E. 

SIZE OF FACTORY : About 3^ acres. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: i three-storey Building; i two-storey Build- 
ing, with Offices (about 690 feet frontage); 18 Metal-Casting 
Shops; 12 other large Buildings. 

HOSPITAL: i fully equipped Surgery with trained Nurse as Matron. 

FIRE BRIGADE: Voluntary (13 Fire Hydrants) Manual Appliance. 

RECREATION: Cricket and Football. 

NUMBER OF OFFICIALS: Officials and General Office Staff = 28; 
Works Staff and Foremen = 21. 

CHEMISTS: Cecil Leigh, F.C.S., F.I.C., and two assistants. 

NUMBER OF WORKPEOPLE: Average, 500 to 600 men; 300 to 400 
women. 

NUMBER OF BOILERS : Each department, including two Metal-Rolling 
Mills, is now electrically driven, taking the electrical power from 
the Corporation about 1000 Kilowatts. Four boilers are used 
for Hydraulic Pumping Engines, and for heating purposes, etc. 

NUMBER OF ENGINES: All Steam Engines for driving purposes were 
removed on Electrical equipment being installed, excepting five 
double-acting Hydraulic Pumping Engines. 

PUMPS: Two deep well pumps, electrically driven (with automatic 
starting and stopping gear attached). One pair of vertical hydrau- 
lic pumps electrically driven with Morse chain drive belt and 
auto starting and stopping gear attached for Hydraulic Lifts. 

TRAMWAY: One ton overhead electric Transporter running through the 
main walk of each department on ground floor. 

PRODUCTS OF MANUFACTURE: Ammunition, Breech- Loading Cart- 
ridges, for Ordnance and Small Arms, Percussion caps, etc. 
Manufacturers and Rollers of Copper, Brass, Nickel Silver, and 
other Metals; Stampings and Drawings, Wire, etc, 

MEDALS: Grand Prix, Paris Exhibition, 1900; Grand Prix, St. Louis, 
1904; Grand Prix, Franco- British, 1908. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 337 

(6} Streetley 

WORKS MANAGER: Harold Harris, F.C.S. 

SIZE OF FACTORY : About 98 acres. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: 3 rows of Workmen's cottages, 2 dwelling- 
houses, i block of buildings comprising Offices, Mess Rooms and 
Stores, 64 sheds for loading purposes, etc., 500 yards Range and 
Workmen's Hut; Velocity Range, Firing Shed with guns,. 
Chronograph Room, etc. ; 2 large magazines. 

HOSPITAL: i fully equipped ambulance outfit with Staff. 

FIRE BRIGADE: Voluntary. Manual Equipment. 

RECREATION : Cricket and Football. 

NUMBER OF OFFICIALS: Officials and General Staff = 5. 

CHEMISTS: 2. 

NUMBER OF WORKPEOPLE: Average 25 to 30 men; looto 150 women. 

NUMBER OF BOILERS: 2 Lancashire Boilers. 

NUMBER OF ENGINES: i horizontal Steam Engine; i double cylinder 
high speed vertical Steam Engine. 

TRAMWAY: 3 overhead Transporters with carrying-cages connecting 
loading-sheds, etc. 

PRODUCTS OF MANUFACTURE: Cartridge and Detonator Loading, Fog 
Signals. 

These factories were at one time owned by the Birmingham 
Small Arms and Metal Company. There are extensive rolling-mills 
equipped for the manufacture and loading of military ammunition of 
every kind, to which has been added the manufacture of commercial 
articles made from brass. 



OSWALD BRADLEY, PYROTECHNIC ARTIST, RIPON 

HEAD OFFICE AND FACTORY: Skelton-on-Ure, Ripon, Yorkshire. 
PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Fireworks, large and small. 
CAPACITY OF WORKS: Four magazines, one for Chlorate compositions, 

z 



33 8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

capacity 300 Ib. ; one for non-Chlorate, capacity 600 lb.; one 
Gunpowder magazine, capacity 300 lb.; one factory magazine for 
finished goods, capacity 5,000 lb.; and a drying-room, capacity 
500 lb. 

MATERIALS USED: Ordinary pyrotechnical materials. 

GOODS are manufactured for Home consumption. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS on the Factory: 1 1. 

ENGINES: One ^ H.P. oil engine. 

SPECIALTIES MANUFACTURED: Flash-light Rockets and Roman candles. 

Mr. Oswald Bradley discovered or rather invented a Chlorate but 
non-sulphur composition, which will in all cases take the place of Meal 
Powder. It is used for priming Chlorate stars, lances, or little coloured 
lights used in large designs, and for making quick-match for pill-box 
stars or for lancework. The use of this composition does away with 
the liability to spontaneous combustion, always present when Meal 
Powder is used to prime anything containing a Chlorate. The following 
is the formula: 

Fine Saltpetre, 6. 

Pot Chlorate, 8. 

Shellac substitute (George Boor and Co.), 2. 

Finest Charcoal, 3. 

To be passed thrice through a 3O-mesh sieve. 



F. BRAIN, EAST DEAN, FOREST OF DEAN 

Manufacture of Electric Detonators, Fuses, and Electric Fuses. 
Licensed in 1878 and 1892. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 339 



THE BRITISH EXPLOSIVES SYNDICATE, LIMITED, 

GLASGOW 

The British Explosives Syndicate, Limited, was formed in 
September, 1891, with a capital of ; 100,000, made up of 7,500 
Ordinary and 2,500 Deferred Shares. 

The operations of the Syndicate commenced in the same year and 
a suitable site for a Factory was obtained on the Pitsea Hall Farm in 
the County of Essex, and in close proximity to the mouth of the river 
Thames. 

In 1894 the necessary Buildings and Machinery for the Manu- 
facture of Nitro-Glycerine were completed, and in the same year orders 
for Cordite Paste were obtained from the British Government. In 
1895 additional Buildings and Plant were erected for the Manufacture 
of No. i Dynamite. 

In 1896 the Syndicate made provision for the manufacture of 
Gelatine Compounds, as it was being proved that Gelignite, Gelatine 
Dynamite, and Blasting Gelatine were gradually taking the place of 
No. i Dynamite in many parts of the world. 

Negotiations quickly followed for the representation of the Syndi- 
cate in various Colonial Markets, and early in 1896 first consignments 
of Dynamite and Gelatine Explosives were shipped to Australia and 
South Africa. 

In October, 1896, additional Capital was raised by the issue of 
Debenture Stock in order to further develop the business of the Syndi- 
cate, and from that period up till the present the operations of the 
Syndicate continue to extend. 

In 1902 Buildings, Plant, and Machinery were laid down for the 
manufacture of finished Cordite, and since then the Syndicate has 
regularly supplied this Military Powder to the British Government. 

Besides the Explosives above referred to the Syndicate manu- 



340 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

facture two "Permitted" Explosives called " Britonite " and " Frac- 
turite." 

In 1904 the Capital of the Syndicate was reduced and a new Com- 
pany registered in August of that year. 

The Registered Office of the Syndicate is now at r 24, St. Vincent 
Street, Glasgow, and the present Directors are: 

DOUGLAS CAIRNEY, Stockbroker, Glasgow (Chairman}. 
JAMES B. GIBSON, Chartered Accountant, Glasgow. 
WILLIAM SHAW, Warehouseman, Glasgow. 

The Syndicate has now Agents in all the Australian Colonies, and 
in Chili, Peru, and Bolivia, and they have also numerous Agents 
throughout the United Kingdom. 



THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN FUSE SYNDICATE, 

REDRUTH 

Manufacture of Safety- Fuse. Licensed in 1877. 



THE BRITISH ELECTRIC DETONATOR COMPANY, 
LIMITED, PARR, NEAR ST. HELENS, LANCA- 
SHIRE. 

Manufacture of Electric Detonators and Fuses. Licensed in 1907. 



THE BRITISH WESTFALITE, LIMITED, DENABY, 
NEAR DONCASTER 

Manufacture of Westfalite, Electric Detonators, and Fuses. Licensed 
in 1889. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 341 



C. T. BROCK AND CO., SUTTON. 

HEAD OFFICE: Sutton, Surrey. 

FACTORY: (No. 190 Surrey) situated at North Cheam, Sutton, Surrey, 
comprises about two hundred acres, and is considered a model 
Firework Factory. 

Norwood Factory, at South Norwood, in the Parish of Croydon, 
Surrey, absorbed by Sutton Factory in 1902, and people, sheds, 
and explosives removed to Sutton. 

Harold Wood Factory, in the Parish of Hornchurch, Essex, absorbed 
by Sutton Factory in 1907, and people, sheds, and explosives 
removed to Sutton. 
The Hulks "Alfred" and " Bluebell" moored at Higham Bight, on 

the Thames below Gravesend, in the Parish of Chalk, Kent. 
PERSONNEL: i Chemist, 3 Artists, 
i Scientific Engineer. 

25 Manufacturing, Commercial, and Administrative employes. 
150 Male workers. 
90 Female workers. 

PRODUCTS manufactured include Fireworks of every kind for public 
and private display, for expert and amateur handling, ships' 
signals, Admiralty and War Office night and day signals, and 
illuminants. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Pyrotechnic chemicals and paper. 
GOODS are manufactured for home and foreign use. Floating magazines 
at Gravesend with fully equipped vessels, staff, and appliances 
for unloading, storing, re-loading, transhipping and forwarding 
explosives. Agents in the principal cities and ports of commerce 
and war throughout the world. 
NUMBER OF BUILDINGS LICENSED: 200. 

Engines: Two 12 H.P., one 5 H.P., one ij H.P. nominal. 
Machinery: includes frame saw, circular saws, band saw, power 



342 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

printing machine, grinding mills, lathes, and special technical 
machines. 
SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED OR INVENTED : 

Inventions and patents under many heads, including the blast- 
ing explosive " Brockite"; patent Pyrotechnic Signals adopted by 
the War Office; pyrotechnic Morse Code Signals approved by 
Admiralty, and other light, sound and colour signals for use by 
hand ashore or afloat, in rockets, shells, Roman candles and other 
special manufactures to suit particular purposes, such as zareba 
lights for bush camp alarms, hunting, yacht racing, Army and 
Navy manoeuvres and field operation signals, Merchant shipping 
and Company private code signals, life-saving line-carrying 
rockets and apparatus, alarm and distress signals, etc., etc. Living 
Fireworks and colossal fire portraiture; representation in lines of 
fire without background or scenery of current events, naval engage- 
ments, national, patriotic and historical happenings and celebrations, 
one single pyrotechnic masterpiece having measured one-eighth 
of a mile in length. 

o 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: Medals, Diplomas, Distinctions, and honour- 
able mention have been obtained with unvarying regularity since 
1865. These include: Diploma of Honour, London, 1884, and 
Paris. 1887, and a large number of other gold medals and special 
diplomas of honour. 

Royal and other official and important displays carried out 
during the last forty years include Prince of Wales's Indian Tour, 
1875, Philadelphia Exposition, the Delhi Durbars, Jubilee and 
Coronation Official Colonial displays in India, Australia, South 
Africa, etc., Danube Imperial Fetes at Budapest, Quebec Battle- 
fields Centenary, Royal Command Displays before T.M the King, 
Queen, Royal Family and Court, and for the visits of the German 
Emperors, Czars, Shahs, Sultans, etc., etc. 

The records of the earlier Brocks, from A.D. 1700 to the 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 343 

present date, show that Thomas Brock, who was born in the year 
1700, made the first distinctive position in the history of ".Brock's 
Fireworks;" his successors in the family and parish registers are given 
as Benjamin Brock, born 1728; Thomas Brock, 1750, with a factory at 
North London; William Brock, 1779, who established a factory to the 
east of the City of London, and where the earliest recorded accident in 
the firm of Brock appears to be that of 1825, when "seven persons 
were seriously injured" ; William Brock (the son), 1813; Charles Thomas 
Brock, 1837, who founded the first model factory under the Explosives 
Act, 1875, at Nunhead, which was subsequently moved to South 
Norwood; and Arthur Brock, 1858, the present proprietor, who 
established the existing factory at Sutton. 

The " Grand International Pyrotechnic Competition among six 
of the best fireworks manufacturers," took place at the Crystal 
Palace in 1865. 

Brock's Firework Display material at the Crystal Palace pro- 
bably exceeds in one season the whole of the other private and 
public displays in the United Kingdom during the year. Calcula- 
tions based upon official records show that the amount paid by the 
public to see the Fireworks at the Crystal Palace since the great 
Competition of 1865 is ,2,250,000, which justifies the newspaper 
statement to the effect that " there is no form of entertainment 
which pleases so many persons far and near at so small a cost as 
Fireworks." 

Brock's Fireworks Series at Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876, for 
which ,1,000 per display was paid, brought 250,000 payers to the 
turnstiles in one day, and founded the knowledge of and taste for 
Firework Displays on the American Continent. 

A branch factory of Brock was established in Turkey in 1870 by 
command of H.M. the Sultan. 



344 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



W. BRUNTON AND COMPANY, BRYMBO, NEAR 

WREXHAM 

Manufacture of Electric Detonators and Fuses and Safety-Fuses. 
Licensed in 1877. 



THE CHILWORTH GUNPOWDER COMPANY, LIMITED, 

LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 54, Parliament Street, London, S.W. 
CAPITAL: ,100,000. 

FACTORIES: Chilworth, Surrey; Fernilee, Derbyshire. 
PERSONNEL: i Head Chemist, i Assistant Chemist. 
2 Chief, and Assistant Engineers. 

20 Manufacturing, Commercial and Administrative employes. 
Approximately 300 Male workers. 
Approximately 6 Female workers. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: All classes of propellent smokeless powders 
for military and sporting purposes, and Gunpowder ordinarily 
so-called. 
PRIME MATERIALS USED: Guncotton, Nitro-Glycerine, Mineral Jelly, 

Acetone, Saltpetre, Sulphur, Charcoal, etc. 

EXPLOSIVES are manufactured for home and foreign consumption. 
Magazines and Agents in all the principal Colonies of the Empire, 
also Agents in all principal foreign countries. 
NUMBER OF BUILDINGS ON THE FACTORIES: 143. 

Boilers and Engines (steam) aggregating about 1,500 H.P. Also 

water-power of about 100 H.P. 

Electric lighting by arc lamps and incandescent lamps. 
Air compressors in Smokeless Powder factory. 
Ten steam pumps, two water pumps. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 345 

The machinery installed consists of over 200 separate machines of 
recent pattern. Much of it was specially designed. 

About 5 miles of Tramway, 2 feet 7^ inches gauge. 

Three lo-ton weighbridges. 

SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED OR INVENTED: Brown Prismatic Powder, 
which was introduced into the British Government Services for 
Navy and Army through the Chilworth Gunpowder Company, 
Limited. 

C. S. P. 2, a propellent powder of the " nitro-glycerine-nitrocellu- 
lose " type, specially designed to give great stability, which gives 
no back flash in large guns, whilst in small guns and howitzers no 
flame is apparent at the muzzle. 

This C. S. P. 2 has lately been adopted by several foreign Govern- 
ments. 

BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: The Company provides for those em- 
ployes who are past work. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: The Company does not advertise either 
directly or through the medium of Exhibitions, although on the 
introduction of Brown Prismatic Powder into the British service, 
the Company consented to exhibit at the Royal Naval Exhibition 
of 1891, and was awarded a special Diploma. 

THE CHILWORTH GUNPOWDER COMPANY, LIMITED, was formed as such 
in the year 1885, but previous to that date the works at Chilworth, 
which they then acquired, had been in practically continuous work 
since their erection. The exact date of erection is lost, but it certainly 
cannot have been later than early in the seventeenth century, judging 
from actual official documents, and is generally supposed to have been 
in 1570. 

The Company may, therefore, claim to own not only the oldest 
established gunpowder mills in the United Kingdom, but probably 
also in the world. The mills themselves were not the first erected 
in this country, as it appears that in the year 1 560 gunpowder mills 



346 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

were built at Thames Ditton, and also at Godstone, 1 but these and 
other previous ones no longer exist on their original sites. 

From old records it appears that even in those early days the 
Chilworth Mills produced not only very large quantities of gun- 
powder, but the product seems to have been renowned for quality, 
which attracted large Government orders, in fact, on ist November, 
1636, the Government signed a contract appointing the Chilworth 
Mills to be the only authorized gunpowder makers in the kingdom. 

The smokeless Powder factory, which adjoins the gunpowder 
factory, was erected early in 1892 ; and it is of interest to note that 
it was in this factory that cordite was first manufactured (apart from 
the manufacture at the Royal Gunpowder Factory at Waltham Abbey) 
the Company having supplied private Clients with this class of pro- 
pellent in 1892, before the Government had finally adopted it. 



CLAYTON AND COMPANY(HUDDERSFIELD), LIMITED, 
HOYLAND SWAINE, PENISTONE 

Manufacture of Railway Fog Signals. Licensed in 1896. 



COTTON POWDER COMPANY, LIMITED, LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 32, Queen Victoria Street, London, E.C. 

CAPITAL: .50,000 in 7 per cent. Preference Shares and ,60,000 in 
Ordinary Shares, of which 40,000 and "50,000 respectively are 
issued and fully paid. There is also an issue of 20,000 in 
Debentures paying interest at 6 per cent. 

FACTORIES: The Company has two factories, the larger, their Oare 

1 There were gunpowder mills in this country at a much earlier date. (See the 
chronological table.) 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 347 

Works, being situated on the banks of the Swale near Faversham, 
Kent, and the smaller at Melling, in Lancashire. 

PERSONNEL: The complete personnel employed by the Company is 
approximately as under : 
10 Chemists. 
3 Scientific Engineers. 

25 Commercial and Administrative Employes. 
325 Workmen, including Foremen. 

75 Workwomen. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: At Faversham Nitro-Glycerine, Nitric 
Acid, Guncotton, Guncotton compressed for submarine and mili- 
tary purposes, Nitro-Cotton, Cordite, Nitro-Glycerine Blasting 
Powders, Fulminate of Mercury, Detonators, Electric Detonator 
Fuses, Signals, Socket Distress Signals for marine use, Sound 
Signals for Lighthouse purposes, Flash Sound Signals for Light- 
house purposes, Male's Patent Hand and Rifle Grenades, Nitrate 
of Ammonia, together with the usual subsidiary output of cases, 
boxes, etc. 

The principal products manufactured at the Company's Melling 
Works are: Nitrate of Ammonia Safety Powders, but principally 
Rexite and Faversham Powder, both of which are on the Home 
OfHce Permitted List. 

The CAPACITY of the Company's Works in its principal products is: 
Nitric Acid per annum, 1,250 tons. 
Guncotton, 850 tons. 
Nitro-Glycerine, 850 tons. 

Cordite, including M.D. and Mark I, 800 tons. 
Nitro-Glycerine Blasting Explosives, 500 tons. 
Nitrate of Ammonia Blasting Explosives, 300 tons. 
Tonite, 350 tons. 
Fulminate of Mercury, 7 tons. 
Detonators, 3,000,000. 
Electric Detonator Fuses, 750,000. 



348 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Distress Signals, 40,000. 

Sound Signals of all descriptions, 1,000,000. 

Nitrate of Ammonia, 200 tons. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Acetone, Aluminium, Ammonium Chloride 
(Sal-ammoniac), Ammonia liquor, Ammonium Oxalate, Ammonium 
Perchlorate, Antimony Regulus, Arsenic Sulphide (realgar), Barium 
Nitrate, Charcoal, Cotton Waste, Cotton Wool, Glycerine, Kiesel- 
guhr, Mercury, Methylated Ether, Methylated Spirit, Mineral Jelly, 
Muriatic Acid, NordhausenOil of Vitriol, Potassium Chlorate, Potas- 
sium Nitrate (Saltpetre), Potassium Perchlorate, Shellac, Sodium 
Carbonate (Crystals), Sodium Carbonate (Soda Ash), Sodium 
Chloride (Salt), Sodium Nitrate (Chili Saltpetre), Sodium Silicate, 
Sodium Tungstate, Strontium Nitrate, Sulphur, Sulphuric Acid, 
Trinitro-Toluene, Wood flour. 

The only 

BY-PRODUCT obtained and sold as such is Nitre Cake other by- 
products are utilized for various purposes in the Company's 
subsidiary manufactures. 

MARKETS: The larger portion of the Company's trade is in the United 
Kingdom, but they also supply military explosives to the Govern- 
ments of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Chili, Peru, Argentine, 
India, and Japan. 

They manufacture very extensively Sound Signals for Light- 
house purposes, and Socket Distress Signals for marine work. 

The Company are also represented for the sale of their Blast- 
ing Explosives and commercial manufactures in the following 
countries : 

Argentine, British Columbia, British Guiana, Canada, China, 
Gibraltar, India, Japan, Newfoundland, New South Whiles, 
Nigeria, New Zealand, Straits Settlements, Siam, the Gold Coast, 
United States of Columbia, Victoria, and West Africa. 
FACTORY ARRANGEMENTS : The Company's Oare Works are situated on 
the banks of the Swale, about four miles from the town of Faversham. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 349 

They comprise about 400 acres of land, buildings being situated on 
about 250 acres. They have a good water frontage, with con- 
venient wharf accommodation, and a good water carriage with 
special facilities for loading goods for export. 

There are at these Works about 227 buildings of various 
sorts. 

There are seven Lancashire Boilers in three separate Boiler 
Houses. 

The working pressure throughout is 100 Ibs. per square inch. 
Each boiler has a " Bolton " Downtake Super-heater fitted, and 
the average temperature of the steam on leaving the Superheater 
is 580 F. 

The total H.P. the boilers are capable of developing is about 
i, 800. A very large portion of the steam, however, is used for 
drying and boiling purposes, particularly in the manufacture of the 
large sizes of Cordite. In this Department alone there are ap- 
proximately three miles of large size steam-pipe above ground 
connecting with the drying-houses. 

Owing to the marshy nature of the ground it is impossible to 
build chimney stacks, and each set of boilers is fitted with a 
3O-inch Sirocco Fan arranged for induced draft. 

Alexander Wright and Co.'s Patent CO 2 Recorders have 
been installed in two of the boiler batteries as a means of regulating 
the coal consumption, and the results after six months' working 
have been very satisfactory. 

Engines (Steam): Owing to the scattered nature of the factory there 
are a number of steam-engines of various descriptions, 25 being 
installed in various departments of the Works capable of developing 
in all about 400 H.P. 

Engines (Gas): The power for the Guncotton Beating House is 
supplied by a Kynoch Engine and Suction Gas Plant with a 
capacity of 120 B.H.P. 

Lighting: Electric Light Plant is installed in one department only 



350 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

of the Faversham Works, the plant for the recovery of volatile 
solvents being lit in this manner. The plant is a small one. 

The lighting of the main factory, together with the heat required 
for the Laboratories and other minor purposes, is supplied from the 
Company's Gas Works, which are situated at some little distance 
from the main factory buildings, and is capable of supplying about 
20,000 cubic feet of gas per day. 

Machinery: The main items of plant on this factory are as under: 
Air Compressors, 3; in all about 180 H.P. 

The works have two systems of compressed air mains, respect- 
ively 80 and 40 Ib. pressure. 

Deep Well Pumps: Three direct-acting deep well pumps drawing 
from one 1 2-inch, one lo-inch, and one 5-inch artesian well, and 
capable of pumping in all about 14,000 gallons of water per hour. 
Hydraulic Plant: Three sets of Hydraulic Accumulators and Pumps 
supplying one high -pressure and two low-pressure services to 
different portions of the factory. 

Hydraulic and other Presses for Cordite, 17 of various sizes. 

Hydraulic Presses for Guncotton, 4. 

Hydraulic and Mechanical Presses for Tonite and Signals, 6. 
Fire Installation: There is a complete hydraulic pressure Fire 
Installation, consisting of a powerful stationary pump with mains 
and hydrants throughout the factory. A full head of water can be 
turned on to any building within the danger area in the course of 
two minutes. 

The Works are also equipped with a mechanic's machine and 
fitting shop complete with lathes, drilling and planing machines, 
etc., also with Tinsmith's, Carpenter's, Joiner's, Wheelwright's, 
and Lead Burner's shops. 

They also have their own dock and slip, and can carry out any 
necessary repairs to their barge fleet. 

The tramways throughout the W T orks are 3 feet 3 inches gauge. 
They are so arranged as to be convenient for the conveyance of 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 351 

all raw materials from the point of landing at the wharf and of all 
manufactured and partially manufactured products. There are in 
all about 4^ miles of this road on the factory with a suitable 
equipment of rolling stock. 

The principal receipts of raw materials and deliveries of manu- 
factured goods from these works are made by water, and for this 
purpose the Company possess a fleet of eight vessels. 
THE FOLLOWING SPECIALITIES are at present manufactured by the 
Company: 

Tonite, used principally for submarine blasting and also as a 
detonating charge in Sound and Distress Signals and the bursting 
charge in the Company's grenades. 

Socket Distress Signals. These signals are specially sanctioned 
for use by the Board of Trade. 

Sound Signals and Flash Sound Signals, for lighthouse purposes. 
Faversharn Powder, Rexite, and Normanite. These powders 
are on the Home Office Permitted List. 

Faversharn Powder is a nitrate of ammonia explosive. 
Rexite contains nitrate of ammonia with a small percentage of 
nitro-glycerine. 

Normanite contains rather a larger proportion of nitro-glycerine. 
Grenades. The Company are also manufacturing Marten Hale's 
Patent Hand and Rifle Grenades. The latter is a recent invention 
of considerable interest. It is capable of throwing a 5 oz. bursting 
charge surrounded with a shrapnel ring a distance of about 425 
yards, and can be thrown from the muzzle of a Service Rifle by 
means of a specially constructed tail rod which is inserted in the 
barrel of the rifle, the propelling charge used being the ordinary 
Service cartridge but without the bullet. 

BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: The Company have a Sick Fund and a 
Bonus System for its employes, based on the amount of the 
Dividends returned to the Shareholders. 
DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED : The Company have taken a large number of 



352 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Medals, Diplomas, etc., in London, Paris, and elsewhere, but for 
the last eight years have not exhibited any of their various 
products. 

Historical. The Company was registered in 1872, and was 
originally formed for the manufacture of Punshon's Patent Controllable 
Guncotton. This was a mixture of guncotton finely granulated and 
closely mixed with sugar. Owing, however, to the extremely hygro- 
scopic nature of the finished product, this explosive proved a complete 
failure and had to be abandoned. 

After a great number of experiments, the then manager Mr. 
Trench invented the explosive known as Tonite, which is used par- 
ticularly for submarine work. 

A few years later the Socket Distress Signal was also invented by 
Mr. Trench and its manufacture on a considerable scale commenced. 

In 1880 the Works at Melling were formed to take up the manu- 
facture of Tonite in the north of England, and almost immediately 
afterwards the Company commenced the manufacture of nitrate of 
ammonia powders, and brought out their Faversham Powder. 

In 1892 the Company commenced the manufacture of nitro- 
glycerine explosives at their Faversham Works, and in 1896 com- 
menced the manufacture of cordite. 

The most recent developments of the Company's manufacture 
have been in the direction of subsidiary requirements for blasting 
purposes, such as fulminate of mercury, electric fuses, detonators, etc., 
all of which are made at Faversham. 



CRANE AND CO., BRISTOL 

HEAD OFFICE: St. James' Barton, Bristol. 
FACTORIES : Warmley and Bridgyate, near Bristol. 
PERSONNEL : Manufacturing, commercial, and administrative employes, 
5; Male workers, 5; Female workers, 35. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 353 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: 5th November and Display Fireworks, 
Shipping goods, and Smoke Testing-Rockets for Drains. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED : The usual materials for fireworks. 

GOODS are manufactured for home consumption. 

WORKS: Number of buildings: 6 Magazines, 9 Danger Buildings, 
2 Mixing shops, 2 Drying shops, 2 Casemaking shops, i Packing 
shop, 3 Chemical stores, 2 Paper stores, i Woodwork store, 
2 Display framework warehouses, i Charcoal and Lampblack store, 
2 Packing case stores, i Carpenter's workshop, i Shipping goods 
store, i Testing shop. 

Heating apparatus connected with the workshops. 
Guillotine Cutting Machine and numerous Pinching and Dubbing 

Machines. 
The whole of the factory is connected up with a Tramway. 

SPECIALITIES: Electric Sparkling Fireworks, Transformation Designs, 
Whistling Fireworks, and Repeating Shells. 

The business was established in 1887 by Mr. I. Crane (the present 
Proprietor), and when he commenced manufacturing Fireworks he 
succeeded in obtaining a permanent License from the Secretary of 
State, but it took him fifteen months to obtain the License and build 
the Factory in accordance with the Government regulations under 
the Explosives Act for the establishment of a Firework Factory. 
Since then, three amended Licenses have been obtained for the 
enlargement of the Factory, which has been rearranged. During the 
past few years there has been a continual enlargement of the 
Magazines at the Factory, Warmley, and these enlarged Stores having 
proved insufficient, additional land about a mile from the Factory has 
been secured, and Firework Magazines for the storage of 100,000 Ib. of 
manufactured fireworks have been erected. 

The Factory is situated near the Midland Railway Station at 
Warmley, one of the suburbs of Bristol, and consists of 40 Workshops 
and Magazines. The Workshops are heated with hot-water pipes, 

A A 



354 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

The buildings are all isolated by means of Screens, those around the 
Magazines being of brickwork, while additional protection is given to 
the Powder Magazine by a strong embankment, with which the Screens 
are backed. 

Being situated in the west, the Factory has a large trade in the 
West and South Wales. 



CURTIS'S AND HARVEY, LIMITED, 

3, GRACECHURCH STREET, LONDON, E.G. 

This Company is divided into 600,000 authorized Shares of i 
each, of which 458,000 are issued. The Company has besides first 
Mortgage 4^% Debenture Stock to an amount not exceeding the 
issued Share Capital. 

The Works of the Company are situate at Hounslow, Faversham, 
Cliffe-at-Hoo, Tonbridge, Dartford, Glyn Neath (South Wales), Kames 
(Kyles of Bute), Roslin, Camilty (Midlothian Gunpowder Co.), Ballin- 
collig (Co. Cork), Glenlean (Argyllshire), Kennall (Cornwall), and 
employ about 1,500 hands in all. 

Every variety of explosive and incandescent gas mantle is 
manufactured, besides the usual materials and waste products that are 
incidental to the manufacture of explosives. 

The Company manufacture for every market, and have agents 
throughout the world. 

They possess 175 mills driven by steam, water, or suction gas, for 
the manufacture of Gunpowder, while their factory for High Explosives 
at Cliffe-at-Hoo is one of the largest and most completely equipped 
in the Kingdom. They also have factories at Tonbridge for Smokeless 
Sporting Powder, at North Feltham for Sporting Cartridges, at Dart- 
ford for Guncotton and Incandescent Gas Mantles, and at Faversham 
for Electric Fuses and Detonators. Cheddite, a chlorate explosive for 
quarry work, is manufactured by this Company. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 355 

The Company's " Permitted " Explosives comprise : 

Rippite Dragonite Excellite 

Curtisite Kolax Cliffite 

Bobbinite 

all of which are the invention and sole property of the Company. 
" Bobbinite," for which there is a great demand both in this country 
and abroad, is the only low explosive of the gunpowder type which has 
succeeded in retaining its place on the " Permitted List " for use in 
gaseous and fiery coal-mines. 

The "Ironclad" Incandescent Gas Mantle, with a metal top in 
place of the usual asbestos loop, is also a speciality of this firm. 

The firm has obtained numerous distinctions, amongst these are 
as early medals at international exhibitions as : Philadelphia, 1876, and 
Paris, 1878. 

Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey, Limited, were constituted a public 
company in 1898, and incorporated the following firms: 

Curtis's and Harvey, with factories at Hounslow, Tonbridge, 
Glyn Neath, Kames, Glenlean. 

John Hall and Son, Ltd., Faversham. 

Pigou, Wilks and Laurence, Ltd., Dartford. 

Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Works, Ltd., near Cork. 

Hay Merricks and Co. Ltd., Roslin, near Edinburgh. 

The Kennall Vale Gunpowder Co., Perranwell Station, Cornwall. 

The East Cornwall Gunpowder Co., Liskeard, Cornwall. 

The Midlothian Gunpowder Co., Ltd., West Calder. 

The War and Sporting Smokeless Powder Co., Ltd., Trimley, 
near Ipswich. 

Hounslow. It is difficult to say when Hounslow, the original 
factory of Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey, on the estate of the Duke of 
Northumberland, was first devoted to the manufacture of Gunpowder. 
There is no doubt, however, that it possesses a very considerable 
antiquity, and at all events in the early part of the eighteenth century 



356 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

the powder factory was occupied by a person of the name of " Smith." 
After him came " Hill," who was succeeded by " Isaac Butts," followed 
by " Harvey and Grueber," who in the year 1820 dissolved partnership 
when the present firm of Curtis's and Harvey was established through 
the instrumentality of the famous Alderman Sir William Curtis, the 
first partners in the concern being Mr. Charles Berwick Curtis his son, 
Mr. Thomas Curtis, his nephew; Mr. W. G. Harvey, representing 
the older firm. It is recorded that a Harvey was previously in the 
occupation of part of the well-known powder works at Battle. From 
that day to this the history of the factory has been one of continuous 
progress, more particularly in the manufacture of high-class small-arms 
powders for military and sporting purposes. 

The adjoining factory of Bedfont, then carried on by Messrs. 
Taylor and Alcock, was very early added to the Hounslow Works. 

In March, 1850, six houses exploded with the loss of seven lives. 
Subsequent to this, with a view to minimize the risk of communicated 
explosion, most of the danger buildings were fitted with tank-roofs 
filled with water. This, however excellent in theory, proved disastrous 
in practice, for when the Lower Press and Corning House exploded in 
March, 1859, the weight of the tank-roof gave a lateral direction to the 
wave of explosion, consequently causing immense damage to the rest 
of the factory and to the surrounding neighbourhood. Eight lives were 
lost in this explosion. 

In May, 1866, a very serious fire occurred, by which eighty-five 
tons of dogwood and fifty stacks of alder were destroyed, though, 
fortunately the flames were prevented from spreading to the danger 
buildings. 

In 1871 the War Office was devising ammunition for the new 
Martini-Henry rifle, and it is a tribute to the excellence of the Houns- 
low powders that " Curtis's and Harvey's T.S. No. 6 " was taken as the 
standard powder by the Special Committee for the Boxer- Henry Cart- 
ridge, from which the powder subsequently known as " R.F.G. 2 ," was 
developed. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 357 

A very complete cartridge-loading factory has been established by 
Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey at North Feltham, adjacent to the 
Hounslow Works. 

Glenlean. The earliest outside factory to be acquired by the firm 
was that of the Clyde Mills Co., at Glenlean, by Sandbank, Argyll- 
shire, which was purchased about the year 1844. Originally a black- 
powder factory for supplying blasting powder mainly for the Scotch 
trade, it was in 1893 devoted to the manufacture of a new smokeless 
sporting powder, " Amberite," which Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey were 
then bringing out. Owing to the inaccessibility of the site, which was 
at one time considered an essential for powder factories, the manu- 
facture of this explosive has now been transferred to Tonbridge, and 
the factory at Glenlean has been closed. 

Tonbridge. In 1859 Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey purchased the 
Tonbridge factory from Alfred Burton. This factory is one of very 
considerable antiquity, for we read in Hasted's "History of Kent" 
that in 1772 an Act was passed to enable certain persons therein 
named to continue to work a " pestle mill " heretofore employed and 
used in making "Battle Gunpowder" at Old Forge Farm in this 
parish (Tonbridge). 1 

The factory was largely employed in the manufacture of military 
powders, and in 1885 very heavy and expensive machinery was 
installed for the production of the various descriptions of Government 
" Prismatic." With the introduction of cordite as the Service propel- 
lent, the factory ceased to be used for black powder, and is now 
appropriated to the manufacture of the smokeless sporting powders, 
" Amberite " and " Smokeless Diamond." 

Glyn Neath. In the year 1864 the factory at Glyn Neath in 
Glamorganshire was acquired, and has ever since done a large local 
business in all kinds of blasting powders for the Welsh mines. The 
factory was first founded by a local company in 1858. 

Kames.\n 1876 Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey purchased the 
1 Compare Chapter on "Legislation," p. 150. 



358 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

business of the Kames Gunpowder Co., Kyles of Bute, which had 
been established in 1839. This factory has now a large output of 
Blasting and Sporting powders both for the Home and Export trade. 

Faversham. Both Hasted's "History of Kent" (1782) and 
Jacob's "History of Faversham " (1764) assert that the manufacture 
of gunpowder was carried on at Faversham ever since the days of 
Queen Elizabeth, if not before her time. If Faversham is not the 
oldest in the country, it can certainly claim the second place. In 1561 
George Evelyn received the royal licence to set up powder mills at 
Long Ditton and Godstone, and the mills at Faversham were estab- 
lished about the same time as those of the Evelyns, though the latter 
were of the greater importance. 

The Faversham works continued in private hands until 1 760, 
when Thomas Pearse conveyed the premises now known as the Home 
Works to Charles, Duke of Marlborough, Master-General of the 
Ordnance, for the use of the public. Thus this portion of the present 
Faversham Works became a royal factory under the charge of His 
Majesty's Storekeeper, for whom a suitable residence and offices were 
built at St. Ann's Cross in 1764. The output of the factory is stated 
to have been about eighty barrels of service powder per week. The 
mills were worked both by water and by horses, and Jacob in his 
" History of Faversham " gives an account of " a contrivance for the 
preservation of the horses that grind the powder " in the shape of a 
sort of suit of leather armour to protect them from the frequent 
explosions that occurred. 

What are now known as the Oare (or, in older times, the Daving- 
ton) Works, seemed never to have formed part of the Royal Factory, 
though they are of equal, if not greater antiquity. Hasted says " they 
have been employed for many years in the manufacture of gunpowder 
in private hands, much for the use of the East India Company. They 
have recently been much augmented and improved at a great expense 
by Miles Peter Andrews and Frederick Pigou, Esqs., the present 
lessees and occupiers." It is curious to note in this connection the 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 359 

name of Pigou, which is usually entirely associated with the Dartford 
Powder Works. It is also on record that a Mr. Gruebarr was at an 
earlier period (1719) in occupation of the Oare Works; he may very 
well have been an ancestor of one of the members of the firm of 
Harvey and Grueber, of Hounslow. 1 

Oare Works seem to have been the first to introduce the modern 
method of stoving in place of the primitive and dangerous "gloom- 
stoves" which not infrequently became red-hot! Jacob says "the act 
of drying the gunpowder is there effected by the means of a constant 
stream of hot water, conveyed under the copper frame whereon it is 
placed to dry. This new contrivance is said to answer the purpose 
exceeding well." 

In 1781 the Corning- House and Dusting- House of the Royal 
Factory (which were situated almost within the town of Faversham) 
exploded, killing three men, and doing much damage to the north-west 
side of the town, and destroying one of the two towers of the neigh- 
bouring church of Davington. The explosion is said to have been 
heard in Hyde Park! After five years an Act was passed for the 
removal of Coming-Houses and other dangerous buildings from the 
town, and a new site was secured for them about a mile away, which is 
the origin of the present Marsh Works. 

In 1794 a company of volunteer soldiers, called the "Powder 
Mill Volunteers" was enrolled. From that day to this the employes 
of the powder works have always been conspicuous supporters of the 
volunteer movement. 

In 1812 Mr. John Hall, an engineer of Dartford (where he 
founded the business of J. and E. Hall, Limited) turned his attention 
to gunpowder making, being no doubt attracted thereto by the fame of 
the Dartford powder made by Pigou and Wilks. In this year he 
accordingly acquired the Oare Works at Faversham from their private 
owner (a Mr. Stephen Gillow or his son, of Cooksditch, Faversham), 
and commenced manufacture. He seems at first to have rather traded 
1 In 1719 these works were stated to be capable of producing 800 barrels per week. 



360 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

on the fact that he resided at Dartford, as he always alludes to himself 
on early bill-heads and show-cards as "John Hall of Dartford," and 
even goes so far sometimes as to describe his manufacture as " Dartford 
Gunpowder." 

After the peace of 1815 the Government thought it desirable to 
remove the royal factory from Faversham, its proximity to the sea 
being supposed to render it an easy prey to an invading force. The 
manufacture was consequently concentrated at Waltham Abbey, which 
was already a royal factory. John Hall took this opportunity to obtain 
a lease of the Home Works, subsequently purchasing them outright in 
1825. The Government, however, appear to have retained the Marsh 
Works for some years, using them for breaking up unserviceable 
powder, and extracting the saltpetre. They were, nevertheless, leased 
from the Government not very long afterwards, and ultimately 
purchased by Messrs. W. and P. B. Hall (John Hall's sons) in 
1854. 

In 1847 Professor Schonbein, the inventor of guncotton, entered 
into an agreement with the Messrs. Hall for the first manufacture of 
the new explosive in England, and here considerable quantities of 
guncotton were produced. 

On the 1 4th July of the same year a disastrous explosion 
occurred, in which twenty-one lives were lost, the destruction to 
property being great. This disaster led to the abandonment by Messrs. 
Hall of the manufacture, and the entire stock of guncotton was 
disposed of by burial in the vicinity. Sixteen years later a sample of 
the cotton was disinterred at the request of Professor Abel for analysis 
and examination, and was found to have undergone very little 
deterioration. 

During the Crimean War (1854-58) the factory was very largely 
engaged in the manufacture . of Government powder, the three firms 
Curtis's and Harvey, John Hall and Son, and Pigou and Wilks 
supplying the bulk of the Government requirements. At this time the 
Marsh Works were very considerably extended. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 361 

On the ist October, 1864, occurred the disastrous explosion of the 
Erith magazine belonging to John Hall and Son. It would appear 
that the accident originated in one of the two powder barges that were 
lying alongside the jetty, the explosion of which communicated first to 
the adjacent large magazine of Messrs. Hall and then to a smaller 
magazine of the Lowwood Gunpowder Company about 300 yards 
off. It is estimated that from 1,200 to 1,500 barrels of powder 
exploded, and although fortunately few lives were lost, the damage to 
surrounding property was considerable, and a company of Royal 
Engineers had to be promptly called out to repair the damage to the 
river wall. 

In 1867 a very serious explosion occurred at the press-house and 
corning-house of the Marsh Works, after which that factory was 
completely remodelled. 

In 1875 Messrs. Hall commenced the manufacture of compressed 
cartridges (or blasting pellets) under licence from Messrs. Davey and 
Watson, of Rouen, the original patentees, this form of blasting powder 
becoming very popular. 

In 1879 the firm acquired the works of the Loch Fyne Gunpowder 
Company at Furnace, in Argyllshire, but after an explosion in 1883 the 
works were not restarted, the Home Office raising difficulties about the 
licences. 

In 1894 Jhn Hall and Son introduced a new smokeless powder 
called " Cannonite," manufactured by the War and Sporting Smokeless 
Powder Company, Limited, at Trimley, in Suffolk; this is to-day 
represented by " Smokeless Diamond," which Messrs. Curtis's and 
Harvey, Limited, now manufacture at their works at Tonbridge. 

In 1896, on the retirement of the existing partners in the firm, 
John Hall and Son was converted into a limited company, which two 
years later, after protracted negotiations, was incorporated with Curtis's 
and Harvey, Limited. 

The Faversham factory is remarkable for having evolved in 
conjunction with Messrs. Hay, Merricks and Co., of Roslin, the only 



362 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

explosives of the gunpowder type which have successfully passed the 
Woolwich tests for the " Permitted List." The earlier examples of the 
" Elephant " cartridge, " Bull-dog" and " Special Bull-dog," developed 
into the present coal-getting explosive " Bobbinite," which maintains 
its position on the " Permitted List," and continues to be very 
popular. 

Dartford. The town of Dartford has long been connected with 
gunpowder making. Hasted's "History of Kent" (1778) mentions 
" Mr. Edsall's powder-mills," 1 and early in the nineteenth century the 
firm of Pigou and Wilks were in possession of the factory, and achieved 
a very high reputation for their military and sporting powders. They 
subsequently amalgamated with the firm of Charles Laurence and Son, 
of Battle, and ultimately became a limited company under the style of 
Pigou, Wilks and Laurence, Limited. 

About 1890 a guncotton factory was erected on land adjacent to 
the old black-powder factory, and a nitrocellulose powder on the 
" Troisdorf " system manufactured. 

In 1898 the company was incorporated with Messrs. Curtis's and 
Harvey, Limited. 

The black-powder factory has now been given up, and has reverted 
to the Pigou family, who are owners of the freehold. The guncotton 
factory is, however, still retained and worked by Messrs. Curtis's and 
Harvey, who have also installed a factory for the manufacture of 
incandescent gas mantles. 

Ballincollig. The works at Ballincollig were established as a 
royal factory in 1794 on land adjacent to the Cavalry Barracks, and 
with very excellent water-power provided by the River Lea. It 
continued to be worked for Government purposes until 1834, when it 
was sold to Sir Thomas Tobin, of Liverpool, and subsequently took 
the style of the " Ballincollig Royal Powder Works, Limited." As such 

1 The factory was instituted in the old Spilman paper mills in 1732 by Pike 
and Edsall. In 1778 Edsall became bankrupt, and the factory was sold to Mr. 
Pigou. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 363 

it did a large business in Ireland and in export powder shipped from 
Liverpool for the African market. 

In 1898 it passed into the possession of Messrs. Curtis's and 
Harvey. 

For the last few years it has been standing idle. 

Roslin. These works were established in 1790 by Mr. John 
Merricks, who had previously, in association with a Mr. Christie, 
owned mills at Gorebridge, a few miles off. Owing to frequent mis- 
haps at Gorebridge, the mills were closed, and Mr. Merricks founded 
with Mr. Hay the new firm of Hay, Merricks and Company at Roslin. 

The factory is half driven by water and half by steam, and is very 
picturesquely situated on the river Esk, in close proximity to the 
celebrated Roslin Chapel. It did a large business in sporting and 
blasting powders both for home and abroad, and towards the end of 
the last century obtained a considerable share of the Government 
contracts which had hitherto been practically monopolized by the three 
firms of Curtis's, Hall, and Pigou. 

The factory passed into the hands of Curtis's and Harvey, Limited, 
in 1898, and does a considerable business in black powder and 
" Bobbinite " (the credit for the invention of which belongs largely to 
the late manager, Mr. A. F. Hargreaves, F.R.S.E. 

Extensive additions have been made to the factory in connection 
with the manufacture of " Cheddite." 

Midlothian. This factory, situated some four miles from West 
Calder, was established in 1889, for the purpose of supplying the 
blasting powder used in the district. In 1895 a saltpetre factory was 
added, for the cheaper production of that essential ingredient of black 
powder. 

The factory is the most modern black-powder works in the 
country, being the only one established since the passing of the 
Explosives Act in 1875. 

It was incorporated with Curtis's and Harvey, Limited, in 1898, 
and continues to do a large local trade in blasting powder. 



364 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Kennall. The Kennall Gunpowder Company was established in 
181 1, though there is little doubt that a powder-mill was working there 
long before that time. 

The factory was then at Cosawes, and the owners, Messrs. 
Sampson and Lanyon, purchased, in 1821, the lower part of the present 
Kennall factory, and worked the two. In 1843 the higher part of the 
property at Kennall was added. 

Considerable quantities of powder at a good profit were made 
during the Crimean War. 

Subsequently a descendant of Mr. Sampson bought out the 
Lanyons, and ultimately mortgaged the whole of the property to Mr. 
Shilson, in whose hands it remained until the factory was acquired by 
Messrs. Curtis's and Harvey in 1898. 

East Cornwall Gunpowder Company. The works of this Company 
at Liskeard, Cornwall, were taken over by Messrs. Curtis's and 
Harvey in 1898, but were subsequently sold, and have since been 
acquired by the Ammonal Company. 

War and Sporting Smokeless Powder Company, Limited. This 
factory was taken over as a going concern by Messrs. Curtis's and 
Harvey, Limited, in 1898; it had been established about four years 
previously at Trimley, near Ipswich, for the manufacture of a smokeless 
powder called " Cannonite." 

The Trimley works were subsequently closed, and the manu- 
facture of all smokeless sporting powders was concentrated at the 
Tonbridge factory. 

Cliffe at Hoo. This is the only factory of Curtis's and Harvey, 
Limited, which has been established since their incorporation as a 
limited company. Started in 1900, in the Cliffe marshes adjoining the 
Thames, on ground that had originally been acquired by Messrs. Hay, 
Merricks and Company, it has been continuously extended, and is 
now very large and well equipped, possessing nearly a mile of frontage 
on the river, with two jetties and a loading wharf. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 365 



F. C. DICKSON AND CO., BLACKBECK 

HEAD OFFICE AND FACTORY: Blackbeck, Haverthwaite. 

PERSONNEL: 80. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Gunpowder. 

THE POWDER is manufactured for home and foreign consumption. 

ESTABLISHED 1861. 



THE "E.G." POWDER COMPANY, LIMITED, LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 20, Bucklersbury, London, E.G. 

CAPITAL: ,49,500 in i shares. The last dividend was 3^. per share, 
equal to 1 5 per cent, per annum. 

FACTORY: Green Street Green, near Dartford, Kent. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: All varieties of Nitrocellulose and Smoke- 
less powders of nitrocellulose base. 

AGENTS throughout the world, who hold stocks of powder for imme- 
diate requirements, but large orders are always shipped direct to 
consumers. 

SPECIALITIES INVENTED: Powders known as E.G. No. 2 and E.G. No. 3 
the latter having now entirely superseded the earlier products. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: The Company's products have only been 
exhibited three times, viz., at the International Inventions Exhibi- 
tion, 1885, the Edinburgh Exhibition, and the Franco-British 
Exhibition, London, 1908, the highest possible award being 
granted each time. 

THE ELECTRIC AND ORDNANCE ACCESSORIES COM- 
PANY, LIMITED, ASTON MANOR, BIRMINGHAM 

Manufacture of Electric Primers, Fuses for Shell, and Tubes for firing 
Explosives. Licensed in 1904. 



3 66 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



ELEY BROTHERS, LIMITED, LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 254, Gray's Inn Road, London, W.C. 
CAPITAL: ,300,000 nominal. ,250,000 issued. 
FACTORIES: Angel Road, Upper Edmonton, London, N. 

Harty Ferry, Faversham, Kent. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Sporting and Military Cartridge Cases and 
Cartridges for every description of Small Arm, Percussion Caps, 
Gun Wads, Lead Shot, Fulminate of Mercury. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Brass, Copper, Cupro Nickel, Lead, Gun- 
powder, Paper, and Felt. 

PRODUCTS are manufactured for home and for foreign consumption. 
Agents and Depots in Birmingham, Glasgow, Exeter, Liege 

(Belgium). 

Agents in Gothenburg (Sweden), Florence (Italy), Winnipeg, 
Canada, Buenos Ayres, Argentina, Sydney, N.S.W., Cape Town, 
Cape Colony. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS ON THE FACTORIES: Five main buildings in 
which manufacture is carried on. Four magazines and a number 
of isolated wooden buildings specially arranged to meet the 
requirements of the Explosives Act. 

The works are built upon an estate of sixty acres. 
SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED OR INVENTED : li Pegamoid " (Waterproof) 

Cartridge Cases and Cartridges. 
BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: Sick and Benefit Society. 

Three classes of subscriptions 6d., $d., and id. per week. 

Sick benefits respectively 105., 5^., and 4^. for thirteen weeks, 

$s., 2s. 6d., and 2s. for a further thirteen weeks. 
Free medical attendance. 
Payment at death ^10, $, and 2 los. 
Firm contributes 50 per cent of members' subscriptions up to a total 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 367 

f ,300 per annum. Dividend shared out at end of each financial 
year. 
Superannuation Fund for skilled Engineers. Each contributes 2s. 

per week, with ,4 per member, per annum, added by the firm. 
DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: At the International Exhibitions, in Paris, 
1900, Liege, 1905, and the Franco-British Exhibition, 1908, 
Grand Prix have been obtained, whilst numerous distinctions were 
received ever since 1876. 

The discovery of new agents of ignition which towards the latter 
half of the eighteenth century were applied to firearms, closed a period 
of nearly 200 years, during which scarcely any important advance in 
projectile weapons had been made. Among the notable inventions 
evolved at this period was the detonating lock. From this, by imper- 
ceptible process of evolution, sprang the percussion cap, and ultimately 
the cartridge, the genesis of all the vast progress made in firearms 
during the last century. Much as the percussion cap facilitated the 
construction of the cartridge, no less did the latter expedite the 
development of breech-loading firearms, by providing, in its expansible 
case, the means of securing that complete obturation of the breech 
which had for centuries defied the efforts of generations of gunsmiths. 

Until about the year 1800, the gunsmith, in conjunction with the 
powder maker, provided practically all the accessories appertaining to 
the use of the gun, but, curiously enough, the latter appears to have 
been indifferent to the progress accomplished in allied branches, so 
that the manufacture of detonators, percussion caps, wadding, and 
cartridges, became at this period the subject of new and separate 
commercial enterprises. 

By 1828 the demand for these accessories gave promise of opening 
an almost unlimited field for inventive ingenuity. William Eley, the 
founder of the present firm, was early attracted to this interesting 
branch, and literally devoted his life and fortune to mechanical 
inventions. To him is attributed the once-famous wire cartridge, 



368 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

which, by delaying the dispersion of the pellets, effected the same 
purpose in the guns of the period as is now produced by choke-boring. 
At the age of forty-seven he fell a victim to a disastrous explosion of 
fulminate of mercury, which simultaneously destroyed him, his labora- 
tory, and its contents. The business initiated by Mr. William Eley was 
continued by his three sons under the style, Eley Brothers, until 1874, 
when it was converted into a joint-stock enterprise, with limited liability. 

Established at a period in the last century when the evolution 
of modern firearms was in the first stages, Messrs. Eley Brothers, as 
makers of an infinite variety of caps, detonators, wads, and cartridges, 
have since been closely associated with every successive advance. The 
displacement of the flint-lock by the percussion muzzle-loader was 
attended by a rise in the demand for percussion caps, which attained its 
height about the year 1865, and has, since the introduction of breech- 
loading weapons, about that period, steadily declined, while in its 
place has developed a correspondingly increasing demand for breech- 
loading cartridges. Changes in military weapons were generally some- 
what anticipated by similar changes in sporting-guns, and some of 
these are well illustrated by means of the annexed diagram, in which 
the curves relating to the output of pin-fire and central-fire sporting- 
gun cartridges indicate how the former have been superseded by the 
latter. 

Similarly, the curves, commencing with the introduction of smoke- 
less propellents about the year 1886, illustrate the still growing prefer- 
ence for smokeless over black gunpowder. 

In an undertaking involving, from the first, the use of vast 
quantities of explosives in combination with metal and paper, each 
prone to exercise some deleterious influence upon the other, the chemist 
is an important factor, and more especially has this been the case since 
the introduction of smokeless sporting and military powders. A 
laboratory replete with modern testing plant is a feature of the factory, 
and continues to advance in importance as the materials employed in 
cartridges became more numerous and more complex. 




B B 



370 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

As the last decade of the eighteenth century evolved new agents 
of ignition which revolutionized firearms, so history repeated itself 
almost exactly a century later, by which time smokeless nitro-compounds 
began to exhibit unmistakable signs of extinguishing the older black 
gunpowder, and bringing about another revolution. Advantage has 
already been taken of the increased energy of modern explosives to 
reduce the size and weight of military cartridges, thereby enabling 
many more to be carried, and imparting practicability to magazine and 
automatic reloading rifles. 

The nickel-jacketed, pointed projectile of the '280 calibre Ross- 
Eley cartridge, of 140 grains weight, having a muzzle velocity of 
3,050 feet per second, affords, when compared with the '577 Snider- 
Enfield bullet, of 480 grains weight, with a velocity of 1,100 feet per 
second, an interesting example of the progress of military rifle ballistics 
of the last fifty years. 

Another interesting feature incidental to the introduction of 
smokeless sporting powder is that whilst forty years ago three cases 
satisfied the requirements of the i2-bore shot-gun, upwards of a dozen 
are now deemed necessary. 

To what extent the cartridge maker has contributed to progress 
in firearms is scarcely perhaps fully appreciated. When the manufacture 
of guns and cartridges became independent industries, the necessity of 
co-ordinating the dimensions of guns with those of cartridges became 
apparent, and by the influence naturally appertaining to an immense 
business, Eley Brothers were able to induce the adoption of measure- 
ments common to guns and cartridges, which have since achieved so 
much towards facilitating the manufacture of both. The inventive 
ingenuity of William Eley was inherited by his son William Thomas 
Eley, and subsequently found expression in the production of machines 
by which the construction of cartridge cases was immensely simplified 
and cheapened, and it is particularly to a machine devised by him, 
which entirely revolutionized the manufacture of percussion caps, that 
much of the early success of the firm may be attributed. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 371 

Seeing that for a period of nearly fifty years the firm shared with 
but one competitor almost a monopoly of the British cartridge-making 
industry, while to every nation it has supplied cartridges in countless 
numbers, it has exercised a direct influence upon the design and 
development of the firearms of the world. 

For quite a long period it rested with the cartridge maker to 
advance or retard the progress of the gun by making, or declining to 
make, any modification in cartridges which might be necessary. To 
what extent the firm has responded to continuous changes in the 
interests of the gun is indicated by the fact that since its inception 
upwards of 1,000 sizes and types of cartridges have been produced, 
and to-day some 400 different cartridges are made at its factory at 
Edmonton. 

This firm has frequently been called upon to supplement the 
resources of the national arsenals, and maintains the plant and organiza- 
tion essential to the production of military cartridges. 



THE ELTERWATER GUNPOWDER, CO., LTD. 
ELTERWATER, NEAR AMBLESIDE, WESTMORLAND. 

CAPITAL: .51,000. 
FACTORY: Elterwater. 
PERSONNEL: 100. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Blasting Gunpowder. 
OUTPUT: 1,400 tons per annum. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Saltpetre, Sulphur, and Charcoal. 
BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: Medical Club. 
This Company was established in 1824. 



372 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



THE EXPLOSIVES AND CHEMICAL PRODUCTS, LTD. 

THIS Company was founded in 1905 by Mr. E. J. Barbier, Chairman 
of the Explosives Companies on the Continent, which are known 
under the general title of " Societes d'Explosifs et de Produits 
Chimiques (Groupe Barbier)," and which possess seven other fac- 
tories in France, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Greece for the manu- 
facture of explosives and chemical products. 

The Company was registered with a capital of ^50,000 divided into 
50,000 shares of i each. The object of the Company is the manu- 
facture and sale of all chemical products and explosives. 

The Company possesses the works of Great Oakley, and the free- 
hold property of Bramble Island, Essex, which covers 170 acres. This 
factory is situated between the two railway lines from Colchester to 
Harwich and from Colchester to Walton-on-the-Naze, on the North 
Sea, five miles from Harwich. 

The estate is protected from the sea by a strong sea-wall, 
designed to resist the violent storms of the North Sea. It possesses 
a dock fitted to receive and despatch by boat the raw materials and 
the manufactured goods. 

The factory is licensed by the Home Office for the manufacture 
of the following: Dynamite No. i, Dynamite No. 2, Blasting Gelatine, 
Gelatine Dynamite No. i, Gelatine Dynamite No. 2, or Gelignite. 

Permitted explosives: Oaklite No. i, Oaklite No. 2. 

The factory is at present fitted up to turn out 500 to 600 tons of 
explosives annually. 

The Company also manufacture non-freezing dynamites after a 
special process of their own; concentrated nitric acid, nitrate of lead, 
etc., and possess special processes for the manufacture of the two last- 
named substances. 

A plant has been erected for the recovery of waste acids. 

It is intended to start at this factory the manufacture of a patented 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 373 

shot-firing tape, which assures the complete detonation of all explosive 
charges. This tape is manufactured by the Groupe Barbier at one of its 
two French factories, and possesses the advantage of giving complete 
detonation of the explosive used in the bore-holes. 

The Company is managed by: Mr. E. J. Barbier, Chairman of the 
Board of Directors; Mr. E. Colon, General Manager. 

Head Office: Finsbury Pavement House, London, E.C. 

C. L. HAMILTON, DUBLIN 
Manufacture of Fireworks. Licensed in 1877. 

HENRtTE EXPLOSIVES, LIMITED, DARTFORD 
Manufacture of" Henrite " Explosive. Licensed in 1906. 

"HODSMANS," DUBLIN. 

OFFICE, LABORATORY AND FACTORY : Cremorne, Donore Avenue, 

Dublin. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Fireworks. 
ESTABLISHED: 1849. 

This factory is now closed down. 



T. JENKINS AND COMPANY, YARDLEY, NEAR 

BIRMINGHAM 

Manufacture of Railway Fog Signals. Licensed in 1881. 



JENNISON AND CO., BELLEVUE, NEAR 
MANCHESTER 

Manufacture of Fireworks. Licensed in 1876. 



3/4 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

A. JESSOP AND SONS, HUDDERSFIELD 
Manufacture of Fireworks. Licensed in 1876. 

BEN. JESSOP AND COMPANY, ROWLEY HILL 
Manufacture of Fireworks. Licensed in 1898. 



F. JOYCE AND CO., LIMITED 

GENERAL MANAGER: Percy Newton. 

HEAD OFFICE: Kingsway House, Kingsway, London, W.C. 

CAPITAL ^"60,000; Debentures ,10,000. 

The shares of this Company are almost exclusively held by 
Nobel's Explosives Company, Limited, Glasgow, who have 
purchased the Company in order to have their own manufacture 
of cartridge-cases for their sporting ammunition. 

FACTORY : Waltham, Essex. 

WORKS MANAGER: H. D. Hodge. 

SIZE OF FACTORY: 85,000 square feet (6 acres 2 roods). 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: 48. 

BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: i. 

NUMBER OF OFFICIALS: 6. 

NUMBER OF CHEMISTS: i. 

NUMBER OF WORKPEOPLE: 118 male; 247 female. 

NUMBER OF BOILERS: 4. 

NUMBER OF ENGINES: 4, 176 H. P. 

NUMBER OF AIR COMPRESSORS: 2; pumps, 2; and other machinery, 334. 

LENGTH OF TRAMWAYS : 700 feet. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Cartridge cases. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 375 

Established in 1820, F. Joyce and Company's progress is practic- 
ally contemporaneous with the introduction of the present form of 
ignition now common to all classes of ammunition. 

The identity of the first and original invention of the percussion 
cap is very difficult to determine, and it is probable that the percussion 
cap was produced as an obvious variation of the tube principle, for we see 
the introduction in 1816 of a pellet gun in which the cock supported 
the socket, inside which a plunger detonated a priming pellet when the 
cock fell. Thus instead of fire flashing through the nipple, it flashed 
through the cap, and instead of the cock falling on the cap, the cap fell 
on the cock. In 1818 the tube-gun was introduced, and in this the 
cock, now provided with a sharp nose, fell on a copper tube held in a 
prime holder at right angles to the touch-hole, detonating the priming 
it contained. The association of the percussion cap with a fulminating 
substance whereby the corrosion from the use of the chlorate mixture 
was materially lessened, and the life of percussion guns correspondingly 
increased, was first attributed to the Rev. A. J. Forsyth, of Belhelvie. 

Until then, oxymuriate of potash seems to have been the composi- 
sition mostly used. Mr. Frederick Joyce, the founder of the firm, who 
was a chemist, applied Forsyth's researches commercially. He con- 
ducted a series of experiments, which led in 1820 to the introduction 
of what was known as "Joyce's Anti-corrosive Percussion Powder." 
The cap and the anti-corrosive powder, which was a mercurial fulminate, 
instead of a chlorate, were evolved at very nearly the same time, and a 
combination of the two had the very best results. Indeed, it is not too 
much to say, that the Joyce cap of 1821 was the key to the arch of the 
entire system of modern sporting and military firearms, nor do the caps 
now used differ in essentials from the caps then introduced. 

Mr. Joyce established in 1820 his factory at 55, Bartholomew 
Close, West Smithfield. The works were soon afterwards destroyed 
by fire, but rebuilt on the same site, and the percussion cap industry 
was there conducted with such success that in 1842 larger premises 
had to be acquired. An extensive factory was consequently built at 



376 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Waltham Abbey, Essex, on the same site (though greatly extended by 
the purchase of surrounding land), where the present factory of Joyce 
and Co. now stands. The percussion cap for arms of precision was 
gradually superseded by the breech-loading cartridge, which Joyce 
and Co. also manufactured, following with alert attention the successive 
stages in the evolution of the modern cartridge from pin-fire to central- 
fire, all of which were made at the Waltham works. 

The progress of F. Joyce and Co. has been especially marked 
of late years. In 1903, Nobel's Explosives Company, Limited, who 
were then seeking means for the manufacture of cartridge cases as a 
natural ally to their powder, took up a large holding in Joyce and Co. 
and placed with them the manufacture of the bulk of the cartridge 
cases they required for their trade. Gradually this holding was in- 
creased, until in 1908 they completely absorbed the whole of F. Joyce 
and Co., Ltd., which is now a branch of their own organization. 

With this complete absorption, the necessity for much larger 
premises occurred, and accordingly an entire new factory, equipped 
with all modern machinery, and utilizing every existing mechanical 
device, was built in 1908. 

This factory, which is now completed, and will be in full working 
order in the course of the present year, is designed to treble the output 
of the old works. Messrs. Joyce and Co. have also established them- 
selves in Paris, and judging by the success which has accompanied 
their first efforts, hope soon to make the Joyce Cartridge as well known 
on the Continent as it is in this countrv. 



KING'S NORTON METAL COMPANY, LIMITED. 

HEAD OFFICES: For Share and Transfer work only 16, Great George 
Street, Westminster. 

For Business purposes King's Norton, near Birmingham. 
CAPITAL: ,250,000. All the Mortgage Debentures have been re- 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 377 

deemed and the Capital issued at present is 6,000 7 per cent. 
Cumulative Preference Shares of 10 each, and 14,000 Ordinary- 
Shares of ^10, total called up ^200,000. The average Dividend 
from the commencement has been well over 10 per cent. 

FACTORIES: The Metal Works are at King's Norton, near Birmingham, 
and the Ammunition Works at Abbey Wood, Kent. 

PERSONNEL : i Chairman, 2 Managing Directors, 2 Ordinary Directors, 
i Secretary, i Superintendent of Ammunition Works, and about 
6 Scientific Engineers, Chemists, etc. 

The combined number of employes when the Works are in 
fairly good employment would be about 3,000 (males and females). 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: The King's Norton Works are concerned 
chiefly in the manufacture and manipulation of Yellow and White 
Metals for commercial purposes, and also in metallic components 
for Cartridges, Fuses, Primers, Caps, etc. 

The manufacture of the non-metallic Cartridges, and the assem- 
bling and loading of all Munitions of War, which are filled with 
Explosives, etc., are carried out at the Abbey Wood Factory. 

The Company call particular attention to their success in the 
manufacture of Quick-Firing Cartridge Cases, as well as Small- 
Arms Cartridge Cases, etc., which they attribute to a great 
extent to the fact that they were one of the first to recognize 
the value of Laboratory investigation as regards the micro- 
examination of the structures, and other methods by which the 
workman of " life experience " was replaced by scientific men and 
methods. 

The same remarks apply to the Ammunition Works at Abbey 
Wood. These works were constructed in 1901, in accordance 
with the latest scientific methods. 

The general construction of the buildings was arranged to give 
as much space and light as possible, and electric power and 
light were installed throughout. 

The drying of high explosives, such as Fulminate of Mercury, 



BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Percussion Caps, Rim Fire Cartridges, etc., was performed by 
electrically heated air. 

The storage of cordite was carried out on a multi-cellular 
system of magazines, by which the storage of great bulk in one 
compartment was avoided, and many other precautions have been 
adopted to ensure the safety of the workpeople dealing with 
explosives. 

The principal manufactures at Abbey Wood are Small-Arms 
Cartridges, and the capacity of output for Cordite Cartridges 
requiring special loading machines, is about one and a half millions 
per week. The output for Flake Powder Cartridges is practically 
unlimited. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: The Company use a good deal of raw 
material and manufactured explosives. They blend some of their 
explosives with various ingredients, including some with aluminium. 
All their Waste Products are consumed or utilized by themselves. 
Most of the Company's War Stores are manufactured for the 
British and Colonial Governments. Many of their orders come 
from abroad. 

WORKS: The area of land covered by the Ammunitions Works is 62 
acres, and the number of Buildings authorized by the Home 
Office on this site is upwards of 100, at the present time, however, 
only rather more than half of them have been erected. There are 
6 Magazines, 2 Velocity Ranges with Instrument Houses, 
i Covered Range for '22 ammunition up to 100 yards, and open 
Ranges to 300 metres. The Company have also range arrange- 
ments for proving up to 2,000 yards. 

The whole of the works at Abbey Wood are lighted and power- 
driven by electricity which is taken from the Municipal Electric 
Light Station. The buildings are all heated by steam, but the 
fulminate, cap, and other manufacturing drying is also done by 
electricity. The whole of the buildings were designed by the 
company, and are on the most recent lines, which provides very 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 379 

ample space, light, and heat for the workpeople. All the danger- 
building employes are provided with non-flammable linen 
clothing, which is washed weekly, and also special boots, etc., at 
the Company's expenses. Mess room, dressing rooms, and all 
appliances for prevention and security of the workpeople in 
dealing with explosives, are provided. 

The works are alongside the South Eastern and Chatham 
Railway, where a siding is available. 

All the danger buildings are connected with a raised platform, 
4 ft. 6 in. wide, with 16 in. gauge rails laid thereon. 
SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED: The Company own numerous Patents 
for Fuses, Small Arms Ammunition, Q. F. Cases and other 
details in connection with their business, Metal Containers for 
Shell being one of the most recent and important develop- 
ments. 

This Company were the first to develop the pointed bullet in 
this country, and also the first to demonstrate the success of M.D. 
Cordite for Small-Arms Cartridges, and for many years they have 
had an unrivalled reputation for Match Rifle Cartridges, it being 
an understood thing in this country that the encouragement of 
Match Rifle Work is for the purpose of demonstrating new forms 
of cartridges and propellents by actual practice, which may be of 
value to the Government in designing any changes for military 
requirements. The Company have specialized in the removal of 
metallic foulings from rifles and heavy ordnance, the pioneer 
solution being invented by Dr. Hodgkinson, which is also 
possessed by this Company, with other patents. 

BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS: There is a Sick and Dividend Club for the 
Workpeople, which is supported by them by weekly contributions 
and annual contributions by the Company which provides in case 
of sickness or death, the balance being returned annually, less the 
maintenance of the Reserve Fund. In addition to this a Benevolent 
Society exists at each Factory for the purpose of supplying letters 



380 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

to Homes of Rest, Convalescent Homes, and granting assistance 
where desirable. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: The Company have many Gold Medals, 
Diplomas, etc. 



KYNOCH, LIMITED 

WORSBOROUGH DALE. 

Manufacture of Gunpowder. Licensed in 1876. 
Packing Factory. Licensed in 1899. 

HANDSWORTH. 

Manufacture of Detonators, Fuses for Shell, and Percussion Caps. 
Licensed in 1876. 

WITTON. 

Manufacture of Detonators, Cartridges, Fog Signals, etc. Licensed in 
1876. 

ARKLOW. 
Manufacture of Nitro-glycerine Explosives. Licensed in 1895. 

KYNOCHTOWN. 
Manufacture of Explosives of all kinds. Licensed in 1897. 



THE LANCASHIRE EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED, 
WITHNELL, LANCASHIRE 

Manufacture of Bellite, Withnell Powder, Electric Detonators, and 
Fuses. Licensed in 1894. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 381 






F. A. LUDLOW, LITTLE BROMWICH 

Manufacture of Cartridges and Fog Signals. Licensed in 1884. 



THE MINERS' SAFETY EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, 

LIMITED. 

HEAD OFFICE: 16, Great George Street, Westminster. 

NOMINAL CAPITAL: ,50,000 in i shares, of which ,46,500 is fully 

paid. 

FACTORY: Curry Marsh, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. 
PERSONNEL: This Company employs permanently in addition to casual 
and contract labour, 2 Chemists and Engineers, 49 Men and Boys, 
and 18 Women, with an official staff and agents often permanent 
people. 

For the purpose of the business the Company 

MANUFACTURES Dinitro-Naphthalene, for which the Plant is equal to 
an annual output of 100,000 lb.~ 

Its marketable commodity is Ammonite, a Permitted Explosive. 

The capacity of buildings, etc., erected and in use, is equal to 

750,000 Ib. per annum, and the site upon which the works is 

situate is capable of admitting the extension of the Factory to meet 

any possible demands of the trade. 

In connection with the production of Dinitro-Naphthalene 
THE MATERIALS in use are: Naphthalene, Nitric Acid, Sulphuric Acid, 
Nitrate of Soda, and Soda Ash; and for the production of 
Ammonite Cartridges, Ammonium Nitrate and Dinitro-Naphtha- 
lene, as set out in the Home Office Schedule of Permitted Ex- 
plosives. 

For the manufacture of Cartridge cases, lead and tin are used. 
Ammonite Cartridges are chiefly used in this country, although 
for specific purposes they are sold for export. 



382 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

THE BUILDINGS COMPRISE : 

(a) Danger buildings, consisting of a block containing mills, 
engine, and Sifting rooms with Expense Magazine connected, 
Cartridge-filling rooms, waxing-room, packing-room, and three 
lo-ton Magazines. 

(b) Non-Danger Buildings, Boiler House, Ammonium Nitrate 
Store, Dinitro-Naphthalene Store and Store for stock of lead 
cartridge cases, Boiler House with two Cornish Boilers; there are 
three Engines one of which is an Oil Engine with total H.P. 
of about 60. Block of buildings, comprising complete plant for the 
manufacture of Dinitro-Naphthalene, consisting of open shed for 
acid-converting pans, range of washing and drying-rooms, offices 
and laboratory, mess and changing-rooms for workers in danger 
buildings. A further range of buildings equipped as factory for 
producing patent Metallic Cartridge cases, consisting of Melting 
House, Engine Room and Press Room; Carpenter's Shop with 
Steam Saws complete, and Engineer's Shop and separate Mess 
Room, changing and washing- rooms for use by men and boys in 
connection with the case-production industry. The Factory occu- 
pies a site of 28 acres, and the whole of the buildings are con- 
nected by a network of tramway of about one mile in length. 
This tramway is connected with the jetty upon the Thames river 
side, and with the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway. 

SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED : The Company devotes itself to the manu- 
facture of Ammonite, and also to the manufacture of Patent 
Metallic Cartridge cases for its own use. 

The formation of the Miners' Safety Explosives Company, Ltd., 
was the outcome of various experiments made at the instigation and 
expense of the late Sir George Elliot, Bart., in the early part of 1888, 
upon various forms of the Ammonium Nitrate explosives, which owed 
their origin to the investigations of Dr. Sprengel. At that period 
public opinion in this country was greatly exercised by the accidents 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 383 

arising from explosions in Coal Mines, and a variety of remedies were 
suggested, whilst a large number of new explosives of more or less 
merit were evolved, all claiming the advantage of flamelessness and 
all more or less of the Sprengel ammonium nitrate type. 

In these circumstances it was natural that a man of the enterprise 
of Sir George Elliot, who had large colliery interests, should be one 
of the first to make investigations, and after considerable expenditure 
of time and money the Favier patent was acquired, and in 1888 the 
above Company registered, Sir George Elliot supplying the necessary 
capital, the object of the Company being the manufacture of the 
explosive now known as Ammonite. 

Many difficulties were encountered in connection with the choice 
of a site for a factory, and the general arrangement of the works to 
meet the requirements of the various Explosives Acts, etc., but these 
difficulties having been overcome, the Industry referred to was 
started. 

Manufacturing operations were practically commenced from the 
date of inauguration, and, as in most new departures from the beaten 
track, a considerable amount of experience was laboriously acquired in 
practice. The original intention was to produce pressed cylindrical 
cartridges having a central cavity for the reception of a definite propor- 
tion of loose explosive to be in immediate contact with the detonator. 
These cartridges did not find favour amongst practical miners, firstly 
on account of their rigidity, and, secondly, because they did not remain 
damp proof for a sufficiently long time. These objections were over- 
come by the introduction of a patent Metallic Cartridge case. 

The solving of these difficulties still left something to be desired. 
Practical working demonstrated the fact that the cartridges were 
uneven, and showed a tendency towards hardening. This condition, 
no doubt, arose from the low melting point of mononitro-naphthalene, 
one of the constituents of the explosive, and, in consequence, it was 
decided to alter the composition of the explosive. After exhaustive 
experiments in September, 1892, the mononitro-naphthalene was 



384 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

replaced by dinitro-naphthalene, and the Ammonite Cartridge, as at 
present manufactured, was produced. From that date the gradual 
growth of the Industry necessitated the provision of plant for the 
manufacture on a large scale of dinitro-naphthalene, and additional 
machinery for incorporating and granulating the explosive. Frequent 
extensions of the works had also to be made in consequence of the 
growth of the business. 

Among the initial difficulties were those of carriage. Explosives 
of the nature of Ammonite being practically unknown to the Railway 
Companies, the Miners' Safety Explosive Company, Ltd., started by 
carting its first consignment from Thames Haven to South Wales. 
Subsequently, however, and after many efforts, the Railway Companies 
gave their attention to this trade, and finally all obstacles to the 
carriage of Ammonite were removed. 

The constant fluctuations in the lead market and uneven deliveries 
of the metallic cases were for a considerable time a source of difficulty. 
In 1901 the Company therefore put down its own complete plant for 
the manufacture of the metal cartridge cases. Important improve- 
ments have from time to time been made in the machinery as well as 
the cartridge case, and the Company can turn out an average of 20,000 
cartridge cases per day, the whole tube factory being capable of inex- 
pensive extension. 

Ammonite was one of the first of the high explosives to be 
placed upon the special permitted list; the date of the certificate 
issued by His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Explosives being i5th 
June, 1900. It may here be stated that it has not been found neces- 
sary or desirable to alter in any particular the composition of this 
explosive. 

The growth of the manufacture of Ammonite has been steady, and 
to-day the Industry is a quiet, but conclusive example of what can be 
accomplished by persistent effort in the face of great difficulties. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 385 

r 

THE NATIONAL EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED 
HEAD OFFICE: 14, Queen Victoria Street, London, E.G. 

The National Explosives Company's Works are situated on the 
north coast of Cornwall, about two and a half miles from the town of 
Hayle, and about three miles from St. Ives. Since the factory was erected 
in the year 1889 it has been gradually extended and improved, until it 
now occupies a space of some 500 acres, extending to St. Ives Bay, 
the waters of which form a natural boundary on the north. The 
formation of the land also affords natural protection to the buildings. 

The factory was erected by Mr. Oscar Guttmann. It was 
originally designed for the manufacture of about 500 tons of kieselguhr 
dynamite per annum. 

Shortly after starting, in 1890, the works were enlarged, and the 
manufacture of gelatine explosives commenced. 

In 1894 a guncotton and cordite factory were added. This plant 
was enlarged in 1899, and again in 1901, and now contains about 200 
buildings. 

The factory is at present practically self contained and capable 
of turning out per annum about 2,000 tons of blasting explosives 
consisting of dynamite, gelignite, gelatine dynamite, blasting gelatine, 
Cornish powder, and Haylite, the last two named being " Permitted 
Explosives," i.e., suitable for use in collieries, and coming within the 
scope of the Coal-Mines Regulations Act. 

In addition to blasting explosives, the factory is also able to turn 
out about 1,000 tons of cordite per annum. 

The plant and equipment of the factory is of the most extensive 
and modern description, and the works provide employment for a large 
number of persons in the vicinity, and are consequently, owing to the 
decline of shipbuilding in the Port of Hayle, greatly appreciated by the 
inhabitants of that part of Cornwall. 

c c 



386 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



THE NEW EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED, LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 62, London Wall, London, E.G. 
CAPITAL: ,100,000 in 100,000 shares of i each. 

Debentures, .28,000. 
FACTORY: Stowmarket, Suffolk, England. 
THE DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY ARE: 
E. H. Hindley, Chairman. 
Henry Compton. 
W. W. De Buriatte. 

Major-General Sir Frederick Maurice, K.C.B., R.A. 
THE GENERAL MANAGER is L. G. Duff Grant, and 
THE SECRETARY, A. R. Berry. 

The Company employs at the Factory a Works Manager, 
7 Chemists, 2 Scientific Engineers, 10 Foremen, and about 
300 Hands. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Guncotton; Guncotton pulp, to British 
Government Cordite Specification; Guncotton pulp for other 
smokeless powder (Nitrogen content, 12.8 to 13.3 per cent.); 
special mixtures of soluble and insoluble Guncotton for smokeless 
powders; compressed Guncotton in slabs or discs of various 
shapes and sizes, also charges for shell, torpedoes, submarine 
and other mines; soluble Guncotton for smokeless powders 
(Nitrogen content, 12.0 to 12.7 per cent.); soluble Guncotton for 
blasting gelatine ; Collodion Cotton for celluloid, artificial silk and 
leather, lacquers, varnishes, waterproofing solutions, etc. 

The Company has always held a high reputation for the 
excellence of its Guncotton productions. Being the original manu- 
facturers of Abel's compressed Guncotton, they have from time to 
time enlarged and improved their plant to meet the progressive 
requirements of the Naval and Military Services. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 387 

Smokeless Powders, Naval and Military. 

Cordite for rifles, revolvers and artillery. 

Pure Nitrocellulose powders for rifles and artillery. 

Smokeless Powders for shot-guns. 

" Neonite," " Red Star," " Felixite," " Stowmarket Smokeless," 
and " Primrose Smokeless." 

" Felixite " and " Primrose Smokeless " are of the 42 grain type, 
and are very little affected by variation in wadding, cases, and guns. 

" Red Star " and " Stowmarket Smokeless " belong to the 
33 grain type of powders, having been designed for shooting at 
driven game. 

" Neonite" carries the improvements which followed from the 
introduction of 33 grain powder a step further, the weight of the 
charge being reduced to 30 grains. 

" Neonite " Smokeless Powder is made for Rifles and Revolvers. 
BLASTING EXPLOSIVES: Dynamite, Gelignite, Gelatine Dynamite, 
Blasting Gelatine, " Nitro-Gelignite " (non-freezing), " Stowite," 
" Odite," and " Pitite." 

The last three explosives are for use in fiery and dusty coal 
mines. "Stowite" and "Pitite" are nitro-glycerine compounds, 
whilst "Odite" is an explosive of the ammonium nitrate class, 
and can be used in the most tender coal. 

LOADED CARTRIDGES : The Company have a loading department 
attached to their factory at Stowmarket, where cartridges to meet 
all requirements are loaded under strict supervision. 
THE PRIME MATERIALS used at the Stowmarket factory are Sulphuric 
Acid, Cotton Waste, Sodium Nitrate, Glycerine, Acetone, Potas- 
sium Nitrate, Barium Nitrate, Sodium Carbonate, Lime, Am- 
monium Oxalate, Mineral Jelly, Wood Meal, Ether, Methylated 
Spirit, Lubricating Oil and Wax. 

THE WASTE PRODUCTS are Waste Acid from Guncotton manufacture 
and Nitre Cake. 

The Company manufacture for both home and foreign con- 



3 88 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

sumption, and have agents in most of the British Colonies and 
foreign countries. 
WORKS: 

(a) Number of Buildings, 120. 

(b) Number of Boilers, 7 Lancashire; approximate H.P., 1,750. 
Number of Engines, 15; approximate H.P., 500. 

(c) The factory is lighted by electric light (arc and incandescent 
lamps). 

Three separate generating plants, together with a number of 
electric motors. 

Air compressors in the Guncotton factory and the Cordite works. 

Six pumps. 

Water-softening plants for 1 1,000 gallons per hour total. 

Three economizer plants. 

Mechanical stokers fitted to all boilers. 

(d) Railways and Tramways: Railway siding, approximate length 
1,050 yards; 24-inch gauge light railway, approximate length 
2 miles. 

SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED OR INVENTED : 
^Compressed Guncotton (Hollings's process). 
Guncotton Shell Charges, pressed in halves (Carter's patent). 
Soluble Guncotton for industrial purposes. 
Nitro Gelignite (non-freezing). 
" Neonite " Smokeless Powder for shot-guns. 
" Neonite " Smokeless Powder for rifles and revolvers. 

Compressed Guncotton (Hollingss Process}. 

Prior to 1900, the large charges of compressed Guncotton used 
for torpedoes, submarine mines, etc., had to be built up from a number 
of suitably shaped blocks of small dimensions, the limit of weight for a 
single block being about 8 Ib. This method necessitated the loss of a 
considerable amount of space, and rendered it difficult to obtain a 
uniform density and equal distribution of moisture throughout the 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 389 

charge. Under the new process, single blocks, for torpedoes and 
submarine mines, can be produced, weighing from 300 to 500 Ib. 
This enables an increased amount of Guncotton to be fitted into the 
available space, and at the same time ensures a uniform density. 

Guncotton Shell Charges (Carter s Patent}. 

The Company have recently erected a plant for the production of 
Guncotton Shell Charges, pressed and moulded in one operation, thus 
doing away with all turning and shaping. The charges are produced 
ready shaped in longitudinal halves, the two halves cemented together 
forming a solid block ready for insertion into the shell cavity. 

Soluble Guncotton for Industrial Purposes. 

Of late years there has been a considerable increase in the demand 
for Soluble Guncotton for such purposes as artificial silk and 
leather, celluloid, lacquers, varnishes, waterproofing solutions, etc. 
Each of the above necessitates the manufacture of a special form of 
Guncotton, as the material which suits one manufacture has been found 
to be quite unsuitable for others. The New Explosives Company 
have for many years made a special study of the requirements of the 
different classes of manufacture, and have recently enlarged and im- 
proved their plant for the production of this material. Solutions of 
Soluble Guncotton in amyl acetate, wood spirit, etc., for use as 
varnishes, dipping-fluids, leather dressings, etc., are also supplied. 

Nitro- Gelign ite (Non- Freezing]. 

This explosive has now been on the market for two winters, and 
has been largely and successfully used in different parts of the country. 

STOWMARKET EXPLOSIVES WORKS. 

The factory at Stowmarket has an interesting history, and ranks 
as the oldest of its kind in this country. 



390 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Originally erected in 1861 by Messrs. Thomas Prentice and Co., 
it was designed by the late Sir Frederick Abel, for the manufacture of 
guncotton according to the Von Lenk process. 

In 1863 the then Professor Abel delivered a lecture before the 
British Association at Newcastle, on his researches into guncotton at 
Stowmarket. In 1865 he patented his guncotton pulping and com- 
pressing process, and arrangements were made for working it on a 
manufacturing scale. On the 2ist February, 1870, the new factory at 
Stowmarket was licensed for the manufacture of explosives under the 
control of the 

PATENT SAFETY GUNCOTTON COMPANY, LIMITED, 

Mr. Eustace Prentice being managing Director, Mr. Trotman, Works 
Manager, and Mr. Slater, Chemist. In August, 1871, a disastrous 
explosion wrecked the factory, which was however soon rebuilt on an 
enlarged and improved plan, under the auspices of the 

STOWMARKET GUNCOTTON COMPANY, LIMITED. 

After further extensions, this Company was, on the i8th November, 
1881, transformed into 

THE EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED, 
which, in July, 1885, was given its present title: 

THE NEW EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED. 

The manufactures of the Company were at first confined to the 
various forms of guncotton, but in 1896 an additional forty acres of land 
was secured, and a completely equipped factory for the manufacture of 
other explosives, such as cordite and blasting compounds, erected. 

The Company commenced the manufacture of cordite in Sept- 
ember, 1898, and shortly afterwards a further twenty acres of land were 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 391 

acquired, mainly for the erection of drying-sheds of the most modern 
design, so as to meet the British Government requirements. 

In 1904 a further departure was made, and the factory was again 
extended to include the manufacture of smokeless powders for shot- 
guns, rifles and revolvers. 



HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE MANUFACTURE OF GUNCOTTON AND OTHER 
EXPLOSIVES AT STOWMARKET. 

1 86 1. Guncotton, made according to the Von Lenk process, was 
chiefly manufactured from long staple cotton in the form of yarn, dipped 
in a mixture of nitric and sulphuric acids, and afterwards put into cages 
or wire baskets, placed in running water and left for several weeks, 
until sufficiently purified from free acids, so as to be comparatively 
stable. Guncotton made by this process had a nitrogen content of 
12.80 per cent., and contained 6 per cent, of soluble guncotton. 

If required for mining purposes the yarn was twisted and made 
into ropes of various sizes, chiefly from half an inch to one and a quarter 
inch diameter, according to the size of the bore hole for which it was 
intended. It was afterwards cut into lengths of from four to five inches 
and dried ; each length formed a charge for blasting purposes, was 
bound at each end with copper wire to prevent the strands untwisting, 
and covered with parchment paper. These charges were fired with a 
squib or fuse, in a similar manner to black powder. The trade done in 
the above form of charge was more particularly with slate quarries in 
Wales. Experiments were also conducted with a view to adapting gun- 
cotton for use in shot-guns, rifles and cannon, the principal form being 
that of a braided rope or coil, similar to engine packing, the sports- 
man being supposed to cut off an inch or more to charge his gun or 
cartridge cases as required. For rifles, the guncotton yarn was some- 
times tightly pressed into paper or wood in tubes which were then 
covered with guncotton braid, and designed to occupy the same space 



392 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

as a charge of black powder. Charges for cannon were also made, but 
the results in gun, rifle and cannon were equally unsatisfactory and 
erratic. 

1865. At about this time the whole manufacturing process was 
revolutionized by Abel's patent, by means of which guncotton of a 
density and purity hitherto unattainable, could be made from cheap 




FIG. 38. OLD GUNCOTTON CARTRIDGE. 

cotton waste. This process was immediately taken up at Stow- 
market. 

With the introduction of the pulping process a fresh impulse was 
given to experiments with guncotton for ballistic purposes. The first 
form adopted was a mixture of guncotton pulp and ordinary paper 
pulp, which was pressed tightly into the cartridge case. This form of 
charge proved very uncertain, and was given up in favour of a soft 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 



393 



paper charge, the paper being made from a mixture of guncotton pulp 

and ordinary pulp. The sheets were cut into strips of about one inch 

width and rolled tightly into a coil, to fit the cartridge case. These 






FIG. 39. OLD GUNCOTTON YARN AND CHARGES. 

gave excellent results, when freshly made, but, after a time, the variation 
in the proportion of moisture, of which the paper pulp in the composi- 
tion took up a considerable quantity, made the charges give variable 
results. To remedy this defect the rolls were coated with a thin film 
of india-rubber, but this soon dried and cracked. 



394 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Granulated guncotton pulp, the grains being coated with paraffin, 
was next tried, but the granules were soft and brittle. 

1882. In this year a patent was taken out, No. 6ig 8 ", at Stow- 
market, in the names of Walter F. Reid and Johnson, for hardening the 
grains by ether-alcohol, the product being the now well-known " E.G." 
(Explosives Company) powder. The portion of the works used for 
the manufacture of the original " E.G." powder is at the present time 
used by the New Explosives Company for carrying out several of the 
operations connected with the manufacture of their smokeless shot-gun 
powders. This " E.C." powder was manufactured at Stowmarket for a 
few years, when it was found necessary to erect a new factory. A 
separate company was consequently formed, which took over the patent, 
and new works were erected. 

1888. About this time experiments were carried out at Stowmarket, 
and eventually a patent (B.P. 13,308. 1888) was taken out for a 
gelatinized rifle powder in the form of threads, rods or tubes. The 
powder was made from guncotton, dissolved in acetic ether or other 
solvent, and then squirted through the various shaped dies. 

THE STOWMARKET EXPLOSION, 1871 

A disastrous explosion occurred at the Stowmarket guncotton works 
on Friday, iith August, 1871. 

The explosion first took place in the magazines, all three being 
exploded almost simultaneously. The amount of guncotton in the 
magazines at that time was about thirteen and a half tons, in the form 
of dry compressed discs. The crater formed by this explosion was oval 
in form, and thirty-five yards long, twenty-two yards wide and from 
nine to ten feet deep. About an hour afterwards a second explosion 
occurred which caused the death of Messrs. Edward and William 
Prentice who were assisting in the rescue work. The second explosion 
occurred in one of the packing-houses, and is supposed to have been 
caused by the rough handling of packing cases containing heated dry 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 395 

guncotton. The quantity which exploded was a few hundredweights. 
The crater formed by this explosion was about eight yards in diameter 
and three to four feet deep. The noise of the explosion was heard at a 
distance of thirty miles, and the shock was felt over a radius of about 
seven miles. 

The conclusion arrived at by Colonel Vivian D. Majendie, who 
reported on it, was that the explosion was due to the spontaneous 
decomposition of some impure guncotton, the impurity consisting of 
sulphuric acid which had been wilfully added to the guncotton after it 
had passed through the usual processes of manufacture and testing. 
He considered there was no danger in the manufacture of guncotton, 
but that the works should be subjected to constant Government 
inspection. 

The factory was soon rebuilt and enlarged, and during the thirty- 
eight years which have elapsed, no lives have been lost, nor has any 
serious accident occurred which could be attributed to the nature of the 
business, and the Company has frequently earned the high approbation 
of H.M.'s Inspectors of Explosives. 



NOBEL'S EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED 

HEAD OFFICE: Nobel House, Glasgow. 

CHAIRMAN: Colonel Sir Ralph W. Anstruther, Bart., of Balcaskie, 

Fifeshire. 

GENERAL MANAGER: Thomas Johnston, J.P. 
ASSISTANT MANAGER: F. J. Shand. 
DEPUTY ASSISTANT MANAGER: H. McGowan. 
CAPITAL: ,800,000 in 80,000 Shares of ^"10 each, fully paid; ,500,000 

4 per cent. Debentures, all issued. 

The Company's business lies chiefly in the United Kingdom and 
the countries overseas. 

In 1871 Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, was invited to 



396 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

come to Glasgow, and formed the British Dynamite Company, Limited, 
with a capital of ^24,000. 

By the end of 1876 the Company, having for four years paid a 
dividend of 10 per cent, per annum, and having accumulated a reserve 
fund of ^67,000, was reconstructed under its present name of Nobel's 
Explosives Company, Limited, with a capital of ^240,000, and the 
directors decided to restrict dividends to 5 per cent, until the goodwill 
account created by the reconstruction was extinguished. This was 
done in five years, and then the profits, after considerable depreciation 
had been written off the works, were applied to the payment of 
dividends ranging from 12^ to 20 per cent. 

In 1886 the Nobel-Dynamite Trusi: Company, Limited, was 
formed, and that Company offered the Shareholders of Nobel's 
Explosives Company 25 of its Share Capital for every share of ,10 
held by them in the Glasgow Company. 

In addition to writing down their works to a very considerable 
extent, Nobel's Explosives Company, Limited, accumulated reserves 
which were capitalized on the reconstruction of the Company under 
the same name in 1900, bringing the capital of the Company to 
^800,000, at which it now stands, in addition to which Debentures to 
the value of ,500,000 have been issued. 

That the foregoing results were achieved in the face of com- 
petition, frequently of the very keenest, affords sufficient evidence of 
the activity shown in the development of the Company. 

The extension of the commercial organization, the erection of 
magazines, and other arrangements necessary to comply with the 
regulations for the transport and storage of explosives at home and 
abroad, the creation of a fleet of steamers for carrying the commodities 
coastwise, are but solitary instances of the efforts required. But above 
all there was the necessity for extending the factories to keep pace 
with the ever-growing demand consequent on the progress of mining 
and public works all the world over. In order to keep abreast of the 
times the achievements of science have had to be carefully watched, 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 397 

and wherever possible adapted to the manufacture and introduced into 
the works. 

FACTORIES 
(i) ARDEER FACTORY, STEVENSTON, AYRSHIRE 

WORKS MANAGER: C. O. Lundholm, J.P., F.I.C. 
Area of Factory, in acres, 837. 

Number of Buildings where explosives are handled . 689 
,, ,, of a non-danger description . 315 

i ,004 

In addition to the above Factory Buildings there are built 
within the Company's ground Dwelling Houses for Works 
Manager, Assistant Works Manager,, and other officials, and also 
for a number of the Company's employes. 

STEAM PLANT: 

Large Steam Boilers, 37. 

H.P. of Steam or other Engines: 

Reciprocating (steam) of all kinds . . 3,470 
Turbine (exhaust steam) .... 430 

3,900 

Internal Combustion Engines 700 



o 



Total . . 4,200 

H.P. OF AIR-COMPRESSING PLANT: 

Driven by Steam Engines included in above statement, 450. 

ELECTRIC PLANT: 
Generators: 

Capacity of Generators driven by Reciprocating Engines 

in Kilowatts per hour . . . . . . . 610 

Capacity of Generator driven by Exhaust Steam Turbine 310 

Total . . 920 



398 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

MOTORS: 

Number of Motors, 150. 

H.P. of Motors, 780= K.W. 582. 
WATER PUMPS: 

Two sets capable of delivering 2,000,000 gallons per day. 

Filtered water delivered from neighbouring Water Works, 600,000 

gallons per day. 
COAL used per annum: 73,000 tons. 

LOCOMOTIVES : 4. 

Railway and Tramway Lines, 28^- miles. 

FIRE BRIGADE: Fire-Master and Assistant. Permanent, 
i Steam Fire Engine. 

FOREMEN AND WORKERS: 2,300. 

OFFICIALS: 

Head Office, 69. 

Factory Office and Drawing Office, 27. 

Chemists, 35. 

PENSION FUND for Technical Staff. 

AMBULANCE ROOM with two Wards and Operation Room. 

PRODUCTS: 

Collodion Cotton. 

Explosives (Blasting]: Blasting Gelatine, No. i; Gelatine Dynamite; 
Gelignite; Dynamite, Nos. i, 2, and 3; Nobel Carbonite, and 
other Safety Explosives. 

Gunpowders: Empire (Sporting Bulk); Ballistite (Sporting); N. S. 
Smokeless (Sporting); Ballistite (Military); Cordite; Nitrocellu- 
lose Powders. 

Nitric Acid; Nitre Cake; Lead Nitrate; Dynamite Gly- 
cerine; Sulphuric Acid (Oleum); Nitrocellulose in its various 
forms, such as for Blasting Gelatine, Collodion, and Smokeless 
Powder making; Guncotton for Cordite, Abel's Guncotton, and 
compressed Guncotton for Torpedoes, Shells, Military Engineer- 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 399 

ing, etc.; Picric Acid, Nitro-hydrocarbons, Nitro-benzols, Nitro- 
toluols, Nitro-naphthalenes, etc. 

MEDALS: Gold Medal, Paris Exhibition, 1876; Gold Medal, Inter- 
national Inventions Exhibition, London, 1885; Gold, Silver, and 
other Medals have been awarded for the Nobel Blasting Ex- 
plosives at many other Exhibitions. 

Alfred Nobel himself selected the site near Stevenston in Ayrshire, 
between Saltcoats and Irvine, facing the Isle of Arran, and there 
erected Explosives Works, which, according to present notions, were 
of the most diminutive type, when one sees to-day the enormous factory 
covering 837 acres, with 6.3 miles of main line railway and 22 miles 
of tramway on its own ground, with its pier and loading stage in 
the river Garnock. It hardly seems credible that this factory can 
have sprung from such small beginnings, when a few carts supplied it 
with all the raw material required, and a few cases at a time were 
manufactured and carried by men and women to the beach, and then 
taken through the surf to be loaded into boats in the most primitive 
manner. 

From 1872 till 1879 dynamite was the only explosive manu- 
factured there for sale. At an early date the nitric acid required for 
the manufacture was made in the factory itself, but the sulphuric acid 
and the refined glycerine were purchased. Kieselguhr (infusorial earth) 
was first imported from Germany, but afterwards deposits were found 
in Scotland near Aberdeen. 

In 1875 Nobel had invented blasting gelatine nitro-glycerine 
gelatinized and converted into a stiff dough by the addition of about 
8 per cent, of nitrocellulose, but it was not till four years afterwards 
that the Nobel Company could place this new explosive on the market. 
It was soon followed by its modifications known as gelatine dynamite 
and gelignite, wherein the colossal force of blasting gelatine is tempered 
by the addition of potassium nitrate and wood meal. In the meantime 
the Continental Nobel factories were making and selling these explosives, 
but in this country the progress was slow, owing to the regulations 



400 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

imposed by the Home Office. For the new explosive different tests 
had to be devised from those applicable to dynamite. The heat test had 
to be modified in the details of its application, and various physical 
tests were introduced. It took several years of insistent and assiduous 
work to successfully produce gelatine explosives, and it went so far 
that Nobel's Company stopped manufacture until some modification 
was made in the test enabling them to comply with it; hence the 
delay in their introduction in this country. The patents for dynamite 
expired in 1881 ; those for blasting gelatine in 1889. It was therefore 
at Ardeer that in this country the pioneer work was done in connection 
with the manufacture of nitro-glycerine and blasting explosives. 

In 1889 Nobel discovered that by increasing the percentage of 
nitrocellulose incorporated with the nitro-glycerine, blasting gelatine 
lost its shattering properties, and he ultimately devised a propellent 
of smokeless powder consisting of 50 per cent, nitro-glycerine, and 50 
per cent, of a nitrocellulose similar to that used in the manufacture of 
blasting gelatine. 

It was at Ardeer, as far as this country is concerned, that the 
manufacture of soluble nitrocellulose suitable for the manufacture of 
gelatine compounds was first satisfactorily made, and the company 
applied it to the manufacture of the smokeless powder which Nobel had 
called Ballistite. The British Government, however, adopted a powder 
in which guncotton, the insoluble kind of nitrocellulose, was used, it 
being incorporated with nitro-glycerine with the assistance of acetone 
as a solvent. The Company brought an action against the Govern- 
ment under the Nobel patents, but were unsuccessful, it being held 
that Nobel had restricted himself to the use of soluble nitrocellulose, 
and that the use of the insoluble with the assistance of the solvent was 
not an infringement. 

Consequent on the introduction of Cordite, which was the name 
given to this smokeless powder by the British Government, large 
smokeless-powder works were erected at Ardeer, and in conjunction 
therewith extensive works for the production of guncotton. Shortly 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 401 

afterwards machinery for the compression of guncotton was erected. 
The extension of the business had already before this necessitated the 
erection of glycerine refineries, now greatly expanded. Sulphuric acid 
works on a large scale were started in January, 1902, on the contact 
system. 

Ballistite, the first nitro-glycerine smokeless powder invented by 
Nobel, is in this country chiefly used for sporting purposes. Its 
intrinsic value and power may be judged from the fact that the charge 
of Ballistite consists of only 26 grains as against 33 grains required in 
the case of other smokeless sporting powders. It is made by the 
mixture of soluble guncotton with nitro-glycerine, and after gelatiniza- 
tion the paste is passed between heated cylinders and rolled into flat 
sheets like paper. Acetone is then added, the rolling repeated, 
when smooth finished sheets '065 of an inch thick, and looking like 
oil-silk, emerge. 

Over 1,000 yards of this explosive fabric is produced daily at 
Ardeer. The sheets are stoved, sifted and graphited by revolution in 
a copper bowl. Thus is produced Ballistite, which is sold all over the 
world, or filled into cartridges at Nobel's Explosives Company's Factory 
at Waltham Abbey. 

This sporting powder has just gained the Grand Prix and the 
Grande Poule d'Essai at Monte Carlo. 

Ballistite has, moreover, had great success in the United States, 
where it is equally popular for both game and trap shooting. 

Another sporting propellent is Empire Powder a bulk powder 
made from nitrocellulose. It consists of 80 per cent, guncotton com- 
bined with certain quantities of potassium nitrate, and starch. It is 
not gelatinized, but by grinding and sieving becomes granular. It is 
the smokeless equivalent of ordinary black powder for sportsmen who 
prefer to fill their own cartridges. 

Carbonite was taken up as a safety explosive; this is a nitro- 
glycerine explosive in which the requisite lower temperature of the 
explosion gases is produced by an excess of wood meal. 

D D 



402 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

It may be mentioned that on the introduction of Lyddite by the 
British Government, picric acid works were erected at Ardeer. 

With regard to by-products, the scrap lead is employed to utilize 
the weak regained nitric acid for the manufacture of lead nitrate. 

(2) WEST QUARTER AND REDDING MOOR 

WORKS MANAGER: George Smith, F.R.S.E., F.I.C., F.C.S. 

AREA OF FACTORY : 1.5^ acres. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS where explosives are handled: 126. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS of a non-danger description: 38. 

WORKERS: 354. 

OFFICIALS: Factory Office and Drawing Office, 10; Chemists, 6. 

PENSION FUND for Technical Staff. 

SURGERY: There is a fully equipped surgery, with operating table, 
where accidents can be dealt with by the medical officer or the 
ambulance staff; a large proportion of the male workers are 
qualified ambulance men, and throughout the departments, both 
at West Quarter and Regent, there are First Aid Boxes and 
Emergency Books for instantaneous use and reference; and in 
addition, a qualified nurse, who also acts as Matron to the girls, is 
always on duty during working hours. 

PRODUCTS: Fulminate of Mercury, Detonators, Electric Detonator 
Fuses. 

It was Alfred Nobel who first recognized the importance of initial 
detonation. He first used the impact of black powder loaded in 
a tube to fire nitro -glycerine, and then devised a special igniter 
containing fulminate of mercury, ultimately adopting a large percussion 
cap called a detonator. Shortly after the erection of Ardeer he selected 
a site near Polmont, about half-way between Glasgow and Edinburgh, 
and there started small works for the manufacture of detonators, 
purchasing the fulminate of mercury. When the works became more 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 403 

important, and the quantity of detonators required increased, fulminate 
of mercury works were established close to the detonator works at 
Redding Moor. Gradually these works were extended. The manu- 
facture of fulminate of mercury amounts to half a ton per day. As soon 
as electric blasting was introduced, a special department for the manu- 
facture of electric detonator fuses was added to the West Quarter 
factory, and that department has, with the growing use of electric blast- 
ing in coal mines, made considerable strides. 

/ 

(3) CLAYTON BRIDGE 

This electric fuse and detonator factory is now practically 
abandoned, only the magazines being in use. 

(4) REGENT FACTORY, LINLITHGOW 

WORKS MANAGER: George Smith, F.R.S.E., F.I.C., F.C.S. 

AREA OF FACTORY: 2\ acres. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS where explosives are handled: 4. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS of a non-danger description: 14. 

WORKERS: 132. 

OFFICIALS: Factory Office and Drawing Office, 2; Chemists, 3. . 

PRODUCTS: Electric Fuse Wire, Safety-Fuse. 

The Safety-Fuse Works at Linlithgow, which is about seven miles 
from West Quarter, are of recent construction, and contain machinery 
of the very latest type. 

(5) PERRANPORTH 

WORKS MANAGER: Joseph Turner. 

Perranporth Factory is 163 acres in extent. It was originally 
built in 1889 to supply De Beers with dynamite, but as it cost more to 
build than was calculated, it was offered to Nobels. 



404 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

In conformity with the laws of the Duchy of Cornwall, a small tin 
mine is kept going. The tin obtained does not add much to the 
revenue. 

For the last year the factory, which is situated in Cornwall, near 
Truro, on the coast, has not been used for making explosives, but is 
kept as a reserve factory. It is equipped to start at short notice for 
making blasting explosives, but has no nitrocellulose or sulphuric 
acid departments. 

(6) WALTHAM ABBEY, ESSEX 

GENERAL MANAGER; W. Wotherspoon. 

HEAD OFFICE: Kingsway House, Kingsway, London, W.C. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: 17. 

NUMBER OF ENGINES: One 2 H.P., one 28 H.P., one 100 Volts 
Dynamo. 

NUMBER OF MACHINES USED IN MANUFACTURE : 50. 

TRAMWAY LINES : 500 yards, 24 inches gauge tramway ; i bogie. 

COMMERCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF: 14. 

MANUFACTURING STAFF: 58. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Sporting Shot-gun Cartridges. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Empty Paper Shot-gun Shells, Felt Wadding, 
etc., and Lead Shot. 

MANUFACTURE for home and foreign consumption. Agency arrange- 
ments are for the most part the same as those which apply to 
Nobel's, Glasgow. 

Owing to the development in the Ammunition Department, it was 
deemed advisable to remove the Loading Establishment from Ardeer 
to Waltham, where a factory, equipped with up-to-date machinery, has 
been erected, and will shortly be in a position considerably to increase 
the output. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 405 

The Company also own the following works: 

(7) BIRMINGHAM METAL AND MUNITIONS COMPANY, LIMITED, 
ADDERLEY PARK AND STREETLY. 

(8) F. JOYCE AND COMPANY, LIMITED, WALTHAM. 

(9) SWANSEA SAFETY-FUSE COMPANY, LIMITED, SWANSEA. 
(For details of these works, see under the respective headings?) 

I 

JAMES PAIN AND SONS 

MESSRS. JAMES PAIN AND SONS, Firework manu- 
facturers and Pyrotechnists to H.M. the King (sole appoint- 
ment), have factories at Mitcham, Surrey, and Long Island, New 
York. The Mitcham Factory employs in actual firework production 
two to three hundred hands, about an equal number of male and 
female ; one hundred hands are also employed off the Works in non- 
explosive branches relating to fireworks. Illumination and decoration 
hands are not enumerated, because they are employed at a separate 
place. The output of this firm is very considerable. The chief 
branches are: 

(a) Public Displays at home and abroad for National and 

public rejoicings and events, with Set Pieces in Fire- 
works Illustrative thereof. 

(b] Signals for use of Armies and Navies of England and 

foreign countries, Life- Line Rockets, Cannons, and 
apparatus. 

(c) Distress Signals for Mercantile Marine, life-saving, and 

Railway companies, Military and Camp Signals, and 
those for Tropical and Arctic Expeditions. 

(d] Ordinary Fireworks for private consumption and export 

trade, Signals for Fishing Fleets and smoke tests. 

The Pain family can trace their history as firework manufacturers 



4o6 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

definitely back to 1700. The grandfather of the present "Sons," who 
died in 1870, was one of the chiefs employed by the Government for 
the displays for the Peace Rejoicings in Hyde Park in 1814, and the 
Coronation Displays for H. M. Queen Victoria's Coronation in 1838. 
Mr. James Pain Senior defeated, in 1876, the celebrated Ruggieri (who 
died in the eighties) in a series of public competitions in London. He 
was also employed by the Government under General Boxer in the 
displays in 1856 after the Crimean War. The firm have given their 
displays in all corners of the earth, viz. : 

EUROPE. France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Austria, 
Hungary, Roumania, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Norway. 

ASIA. Calcutta, Ceylon, Bombay, Siam, Aden, Japan. 

AFRICA. Egypt, Zanzibar, Natal, Cape Town, Johannesburg, 
Pretoria, Lobito Bay, Nigeria, Fez, Rabat. 

AMERICA. United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Jamaica, 
Argentine Chile. 

AUSTRALIA. New South Wales, Brisbane, Victoria, Hobart, Ade- 
laide. 

NEW ZEALAND. 

They have received thirty Grand Prix Gold Medals and Diplomas 
of Honour in various Exhibitions, including Paris, Chicago, Liege, 
and St. Louis. 



THE PATENT ELECTRIC SHOT-FIRING COMPANY, 
NEWBOLD, NEAR CHESTERFIELD 

Manufacture of Electric Detonators and Fuses. Licensed in 1893. 

M. RILEY AND SONS, OSSETT, NEAR WAKEFIELD 
Manufacture of Fireworks, Licensed in 1876. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 407 



THE ROBURITE EXPLOSIVES COMPANY, LIMITED, 

LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 103, Cannon Street, London, E.C. 
CAPITAL: ^125,000. 

FACTORY: Gathurst, near Wigan, Lancashire. 
PERSONNEL: i qualified Chemist. 
Office staff in London, 3. 
Office staff at factory, 7. 
Male workers, including foremen, 49. 
Female workers, 29. 
PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Explosives, Ammonium Nitrate, Chlor- 

Naphthalene. 

CAPACITY OF OUTPUT: 3 tons of Blasting Cartridges per day, but 
quantity could be easily increased, if necessary, by a double 
shift. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Ammonium Nitrate, Di-Nitro-Benzene, Tri- 
Nitro-Toluol, Chlor-Naphthalene, Naphthalene, Nitric Acid, 
Hydrochloric Acid, Ammonia liquor, Wood Meal, Paper, Paraffin 
wax, Detonators, Electric fuses, and packing materials. 
EXPLOSIVES manufactured for home, colonial, and foreign consumption. 
THE FACTORY occupies about 40 acres in all, and is divided into two 
sections separated by a valley through which flow a river and the 
Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The valley is bridged by a steel 
lattice girder Bridge 500 feet long, in spans of 100 feet. 

The smaller (Chemical) section, of about 7 acres, is used for 
the manufacture and preparation (drying and grinding) of the 
Chemicals used in the manufacture of Explosives, as well as by 
the Factory Offices, Laboratory, Stores, Printing Room, Cartridge- 
Case- making Rooms, Carpenters' Shop, Main Boiler House, 
Mechanics' Shop, Smithy, etc. 

The larger (Explosives) section of about 33 acres is licensed 



4 o8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

and used only for the manufacture and storage of Explosives, as 
well as for fitting up electric detonators. 

On the Chemical section there are 13 buildings, some of them 
of large dimensions. On the Explosives section there are 24 
separate buildings, including work-rooms and magazines. 

BOILERS (Chemical section): 2 Lancashire boilers. 
(Explosives section): 2 Vertical boilers. 

In both cases the steam is used both for power and for heating 
purposes, the steam having to be carried for considerable distances 
for heating. 

ENGINES (Chemical section) : 5 of an aggregate of 26 H.P. 

(Explosives section): i Engine in use, with a spare one, each 15 H.P. 

ELECTRIC PLANT for both power and lighting purposes. One 50 amp. 
Dynamo and one 220 amp. A further generating set, 440 amp., 
about to be added. Voltage in each case no. The current is 
generated on the Chemical section and conveyed to the Explosives 
section, where most of the current is used. At present motors 
aggregating 10 H.P. are in use for driving Cartridge-filling 
machines and ventilating plant, but in the near future all the 
power used on the Explosives section will be electrical, and will 
aggregate 40 H.P. 

PUMPS are used for water supply and for lifting Ammonium Nitrate 
liquor. 

TRAMWAYS: All the separate buildings of the Factory, as well as the 
Siding on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, are connected by 
tram lines, equipped with the necessary covered and open trucks. 

SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED: Safety explosives of the Sprengel class 
including .those containing aluminium. Practically all explosive 
is made into Blasting Cartridges. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: Gold Medals, London, 1890, Kimberley, 1892. 

The explosive Roburite was the first of an entirely new class of 
explosives to be manufactured in the United Kingdom. The patent 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 409 

rights were acquired from the inventor, Dr. Carl Roth, by the 
Roburite Explosives Company, Limited, in 1887, when the company 
was formed. Manufacture was started early in 1888, and has been 
carried on ever since. The Factory is exceptionally well situated, being 
close to the important Wigan Coalfield, and on the Leeds and 
Liverpool Canal and the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. In 
addition to Roburite the company manufacture Am vis and Negro 
Powder. All three explosives have passed the .official test established 
in 1897 for inclusion in the Permitted List of Explosives which may 
legally be used in fiery and dusty coal-mines. Besides the safety of 
these explosives in the presence of fire-damp and coal-dust, they are 
safe to handle and will not freeze. As an example of their safety when 
burned, a few years ago the Mixing- House at the Factory was burnt 
down. At the time of the fire 1,200 Ib. of finished Roburite was in 
the building, and this burned quietly away without explosion. 



SCHULTZE GUNPOWDER COMPANY, LIMITED, 

LONDON 

HEAD OFFICE: 28, Gresham Street, London, E.C. 

CAPITAL: ^323,400. 

FACTORIES: Eyeworth, Lyndhurst, Redbridge, Totton, i, York Place, 

Westminster. 
PERSONNEL: 3 Chemists. 

6 manufacturing, commercial, and administrative employes. 
127 male workers. 
i female worker. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Schultze Sporting Gunpowders. 
PRIME MATERIALS USED : Wood-pulp, nitric and sulphuric acids, barium 

nitrate, vaseline, acetone, and alcohol. 
WASTE PRODUCTS OBTAINED: Glauber's salts. 
POWDERS are manufactured for home and foreign consumption. 



410 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

NUMBER OF MANUFACTURING BUILDINGS: non-danger, 20; danger, 18; 
magazines, 14; offices and stores, 15; stables, 5. 
7 boilers, N.H.P., 325. 
7 steam engines, 160 B.H.P. 
i oil engine, 72 B.H.P. 
Electric light plant of 20 K.W. capacity, 
i air compressor. 
6 water and i vacuum pump. 
SPECIALITIES MANUFACTURED OR INVENTED : Schultze Ordinary and 

Schultze Cube Gunpowders. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: At the following Exhibitions the highest 
awards were obtained: International Inventions Exhibition, 1885; 
Chicago, 1893; California, 1894; Antwerp, 1894; Milan, 1894; 
Atlanta, 1895; Brussels, 1897; Franco-British, London, 1908. 
ORIGINAL RESEARCH WORK by the late Mr. Griffith on internal pressures 
and the stringing of shot. 

The Schultze gunpowder, which is made by the Schultze Gun- 
powder Company, is one of the oldest and best-known Smokeless 
Sporting Powders, and the outcome of the experience gained by many 
years' manufacture on a very large scale. 

In about 1866 Colonel Schultze produced a nitrated wood fibre, 
which promised to be more pliable and more easily regulated in its 
burning than guncotton. This was introduced into England, and in 
1868 the Schultze Company was formed. From that time to this 
Schultze gunpowder has been produced in increasing quantities. It is 
known and used all over the world, and has found imitators both in 
England and abroad. 

Schultze gunpowder has passed through various modifications. 
It was first made in a small cubical grain formed by cutting the actual 
fibre transversely, and then breaking this veneer into cubes. 

Later, an improvement was introduced, and the wood fibre was 
crushed to a fine degree, and then reformed into small irregular grains. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 411 

Further progress was made by breaking down the fibre through 
the action of chemicals under high temperature, an extremely pure 
nitro-compound being thus produced. 

In it was found possible to render the grains of the powder 
practically waterproof and less affected by the atmospheric influence of 
moisture and dryness, and the last addition to the process was that of 
hardening the grains by means of a solvent of the nitro-lignin, so as to 
do away with the dust that was often formed from the rubbing of the 
grains during transit. 

Minor modifications have been made to meet alterations in guns 
and cartridges, but this company has adhered to the use of wood fibre 
in preference to cotton as the basis of smokeless powder, as, in their 
opinion, such a powder is less sensitive to variations of loading, and 
gives more satisfactory results under different climatic conditions. 

The specific gravity of the powder has always been regulated so 
that by bulk it occupies the same measure as the best black powder, 
and weighs just one half less than black. 

The latest development of Schultze Shot-gun Powders recently 
placed on the market by the Schultze Gunpowder Company, Limited, 
is called " Schultze Cube " powder, from the cubical shape of the grains. 

This powder is made from the same base as the older Schultze 
powder, but while the quantity of oxygen-bearing salts and restrainers 
has been reduced to a minimum, the nitro-lignin is gelatinized by 
solvents, and the resulting jelly is thoroughly incorporated with the 
other ingredients until it is a stiff homogeneous mass, which is divided 
up into small grains of cubical shape. The grains are then submitted 
to a process by which they are made porous. By the new process the 
weight of a charge has been reduced from 42 grains to 30 grains. 

THE SEDGWICK GUNPOWDER COMPANY, LIMITED, 

KENDAL 

Manufacture of Gunpowder. Licensed in 1876. 



412 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



H. SHAW AND SONS, ROWLEY HILL, NEAR 
HUDDERSFIELD 

Manufacture of Fireworks. Licensed in 1876. 



STEELITE EXPLOSIVES, LIMITED, PENRHYNDEN- 
DRAETH, NEAR PORTMADOC 

Manufacture of "Steelite" Explosives. License dated 1876, but Com- 
pany formed in 1908. 

SWANSEA SAFETY-FUSE COMPANY, LIMITED 

HEAD OFFICE : 220, Winchester House, Old Broad Street, London, E.C. 

This Company is almost entirely owned by Nobel's Explosives 

Company, Limited, of Glasgow. 

FACTORY IN SWANSEA. WORKS MANAGER: W. A. MacGillivray. 
SIZE OF FACTORY . About 3 \ acres. 
NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: 46. 
FIRE BRIGADE : Composed of Male Workers. 
NUMBER OF OFFICIALS: 3. 

NUMBER OF WORKPEOPLE: 23 male, 120 female. 
NUMBER OF BOILERS: i. 
NUMBER OF ENGINES: 2 (26 H.P.). 
NUMBER OF ELECTRIC MOTORS: 4 (50 H.P,). 
PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Safety-Fuse for Blasting. 
MEDALS: i (Melbourne, 1888 First Award). 

THE UNITY SAFETY-FUSE COMPANY, SCORRIER 

HEAD OFFICE: Scorrier, Cornwall. 

FACTORY: Unity Safety-Fuse Works, Little Beside, Scorrier. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 413 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Safety-Fuse for Blasting and Submarine 
works. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Yarns, Powder, Tar, Pitch and Gutta- 
percha. 

THE GOODS are manufactured for home and foreign consumption. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS AT THE FACTORY: 33. 
2 Engines and 2 Boilers, 14 H.P. 

The Unity Safety-Fuse Company's works were established in 
1846, some fifteen years after the invention of Safety-Fuse by a 
Cornishman, whose discovery was hailed with much delight by the 
miners of his native county. The works from the commencement 
have been under the control of Shareholders and Managers in the 
Cornish mines, with mining engineers, who, by their technical acquaint- 
ance with the requirements of the trade, have been successful in 
producing Safety-Fuse of excellent quality. 

The original method of spinning by hand and with primitive 
appliances has been completely superseded by delicate and costly 
machinery, which enables the output to be of considerable magnitude, 
and with a minimum of irregularities. 

This Company manufactures some score or more types of fuse. 



VICKERS, SONS AND MAXIM, LIMITED 

FOUNDED in the later years of the eighteenth century by the 
grandfather of two of the present managing directors, Mr. T. E. 
Vickers, C.B., and Mr. Albert Vickers, and the great-grandfather of 
the other managing director, Mr. Douglas Vickers, this Company is 
able to-day, in the several works owned, to construct the hull, 
machinery, armour, guns, gun-mountings, projectiles, and explosive 
compounds, and the many auxiliaries, which constitute probably the 
greatest triumph of mechanical ingenuity the modern battleship. 



414 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Mr. George Naylor, the founder of the firm, began in a small way, 
but soon gained a wide reputation for his iron-making. In 1829 his 
son-in-law, Mr. Edward Vickers, became a partner, and in the following 
year a branch was formed in New York with the object of sharing in 
the rapidly developing trade of the United States, but this was discon- 
tinued later. 

In 1856 Mr. Edward Vickers relinquished the control of the 
business to his eldest son, Mr. T. E. Vickers, now the Chairman of the 
Company, who was joined later by his brother, Mr. Albert Vickers. 

Among the recent developments of the Company, ordnance and 
armour plate manufacture were commenced in 1888, and the Naval 
Construction and Armament Works at Barrow-in-Furness, and the 
Maxim-NordenfeltGunand Ammunition Works at Erith, Birmingham, 

o 

and other places, were acquired in 1897. 

The ordnance works at Sheffield have an area of 50 acres, and 
give employment to 5,000 men. The establishment embraces not only 
steel-producing furnaces with a capacity of 2,000 tons per week, but plant 
for the production of 10,000 tons of armour per annum, and 360 guns 
of various calibres. The machine shops utilized for ordnance alone 
have a total area of 350,000 square feet. The Sheffield Works are also 
engaged in the manufacture of projectiles. 

The Barrow Works are mainly employed in the manufacture of 
gun-mountings, two of the erecting shops having a length of over 
1,000 feet, while the total area of the shops for this work alone is 
300,000 square feet. The shops are contiguous to the fitting-out 
basin, and warships of all types, including their machinery, are con- 
structed in this establishment. During the past ten years, the vessels 
built represent a total displacement of 223,464 tons, while the total 
horse-power of the warship machinery constructed in the same period 
is nearly 500,000 I.H.P. The approximate value of the ships exceeds 
^20,000,000 sterling. 

The Company's works at Erith, at which quick-firing guns and 
their ammunition are manufactured, have an area of i8J acres, and 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 415 

comprise three factories in close proximity to each other. There are 
2,000 machine tools at these works, and about 4,000 men are 
employed 

At Birmingham a great variety of light ordnance work is carried 
out, including fuses, cartridge cases for pompom guns, tin canisters 
for shrapnel shell, brass central tubes for shrapnel shell, case shot, 
solid brass cartridge cases for all sizes of guns up to 5 -inch bore, etc. 

The Company have a cartridge factory at Dartford, which is 
specially laid out for this class of work, in accordance with the require- 
ments of the Home Office. This means that there is a large area 
studded with small buildings, in each of which only two or three 
workers are engaged in loading, assembling, priming, etc. There are, 
of course, a number of powder magazines, each properly safeguarded. 
Additional to the isolated huts, or danger buildings, there are fairly 
extensive shops for examining and gauging the completed ammunition 
prior to packing, also for painting same with the special marks which 
indicate its kind, whether shrapnel, solid, etc. 

Explosive compounds, projectiles, guns and armour, are tested at 
a big gun range at Eskmeads, on the Cumberland coast, where a crane 
of 80 tons capacity, running on an overhead gantry, lifts the loads 
from the railway wagons to the gun-mounting, armour-framing, etc. 
There are also ranges at Eynsford and Swanley in Kent, for testing 
lighter guns. 



W. H. WAKEFIELD AND COMPANY, LIMITED 

GATEBECK GUNPOWDER MILLS, NEAR KENDAL 

THIS Company was started at Sedgwick, in Westmorland, in the 
year 1764, by John Wakefield, great-great-grandfather of the 
present owners, and continued in a small way there until 1852, when the 
bulk of the works were transferred to Gatebeck, where they now exist. 
In 1882 the Lowwood Gunpowder Company, Limited, near 



416 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 

Ulverston, was absorbed into this firm, which became a limited Company 
in June, 1903. 

Blasting black powder has been practically the only manufacture 
during the whole period, and the saltpetre manufactory is the earliest 
in England, having been erected in 1864. 

JOSEPH WELLS, LONDON 

OFFICE AND FACTORY: Albert Firework Factory, Honor Oak Park, 

London, S.E. 

PERSONNEL: Administrative Employes at Factory, 5. 
Male workers (inside), varies from 15 to 30. 
Female workers (inside), varies from 2 to 6. 
Male workers (outside), 4. 
Female workers (outside), varies to 10. 
Travellers, 10. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Fireworks for sale, 5th November, and for 
Displays in all parts of the world. Ships' signals, including 
Rockets, Blue and Coloured Lights, etc. Smoke Rockets for 
Drain testing, etc. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Ordinary Pyrotechnic materials. 
GOODS are manufactured for Home and Foreign consumption. 
AGENTS in New Zealand, America, Sierra Leone, Egypt, S. Africa, 

Australia, India, etc. 

MAGAZINE at Gravesend for import and export. 
NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: Danger buildings for the manufacture of 

Explosives, 13. 

Danger buildings for storage, 5. 
Non-danger buildings, 10. 
DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED : Various Gold Medals and other Prizes. 

Established in the year 1839, and carried on from that time at 
different addresses until the present day. Established at Honor Oak 
Park, S.E,, in the year 1875. 



PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS 417 

The first importer of Aluminium torches into London, and one 
of the first to import Chinese crackers. 

Sole contractor to the late Cremorne Gardens, Chelsea. Con- 
tractor to: Association of Conservative Clubs, General Steam Navio-a- 

& 

tion Company, H.M. War Department, London County Council, 
Egyptian, Belgian, and Spanish Governments, Royal National Life- 
boat Institution, Harrod's Stores, William Whiteley, Limited, etc. 

Contractor for Limelights, Decorations, Illuminations, Manager 
of Fetes and all amusements. Fire Effects for Pantomimes, Plays, 
and Music Halls. 

Men and goods sent to all parts of the world. 



W. AND J. WILDER, BIRMINGHAM 

HEAD OFFICE: 29, Great Francis Street, Birmingham. 

FACTORIES: Greet and Knowle, Warwickshire. 

NUMBER OF WORKERS: Male, 20; female, 30. 

PRODUCTS MANUFACTURED: Fireworks, Pyrotechnic Display, and Shop 
Goods. 

CAPACITY OF WORKS: About 50 tons are sold yearly. 

PRIME MATERIALS USED: Ordinary Pyrotechnic Materials. 

GOODS are manufactured for home consumption. 

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS: 50 Sheds and Magazines. 

DISTINCTIONS OBTAINED: Awarded First Prize in the Firework Com- 
petition at Alexandra Palace, London. 
The firm was established in 1834. 



E E 



4i8 BRITISH EXPLOSIVES INDUSTRY 



LIST OF MANUFACTURERS OF PICRIC ACID 

BRADFORD DYERS ASSOCIATION, LTD. (THE Low MOOR CHEMICAL Co., 

LTD.), Low MOOR, NEAR BRADFORD. 
S. BREAKS AND SON, LTD., BRADFORD. 
R. GRAESSER, RUABON. 

CHAS. LOWE AND Co., REDDISH, NEAR STOCKPORT. 
READ, HOLLIDAY AND SONS, LTD., HUDDERSFIELD. 
SHARP AND MALLETT, COPLEY, HALIFAX. 
THE WHITE LEE CHEMICAL Co. (Hv. ELLISON), CLECKHEATON. 




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